U.S. states, industry join call for end to Trump’s newsprint tariff

American newspapers depend on Canadian paper, B.C. a large supplier

An organization of western U.S. states and Canadian provinces is joining the call for the U.S. government to drop its preliminary duties on imported newsprint and book paper.

The U.S. Commerce Department has imposed preliminary duties on Canadian uncoated paper that total more than 28 per cent. That’s adding greatly to the costs of U.S. newspapers that are already struggling, says the executive of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region, a group of government and private-sector representatives.

PNWER members include B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, with a head office in Seattle. Its executive statement, released Thursday, notes that the U.S. paper industry has shifted away from newsprint as demand in the U.S. has declined by 75 per cent since 2000.

That leaves Canadian producers like Catalyst Paper paying a steep duty and passing costs on to U.S. customers. Catalyst has operations in the Cowichan Valley, Port Alberni and Powell River, a distribution centre in Surrey and headquarters in Richmond.

RELATED: Duties could price Catalyst out of business

The tariffs have drawn protests from more than 1,100 U.S. newspaper companies, Democrat and Republican Members of Congress and the American Forest and Paper Association, which would be expected to benefit from the trade protection.

“Printers and publishers are not able to absorb these increased costs and may be forced to lay off workers, cut production, print fewer pages and shift more of their content and subscribers to digital platforms,” said Matt Morrison, executive director of PENWR.

Unifor, the union representing pulp and paper as well as newspaper employees in Canada, has launched a campaign to “Stop Trump’s tariffs” on the industry.

B.C. Premier John Horgan has called for a meeting of provincial party leaders, mayors and Unifor representatives to discuss solutions to the problem.

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