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Petition aims to remedy tariffs on newsprint imported from Canada

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Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Lance Budway adds a bundle of newspapers to a pallet at the Tribune-Review Falcon printing facility on Saturday, June 9, 2018 in West Deer Township.

A coalition of publishing companies, newspapers and industry groups and associations are circulating a petition to address tariffs imposed on Canadian newsprint that have caused its price to rise more than 30 percent in the U.S.

The U.S. Commerce Department imposed the tariffs — taxes on imported goods — in January and increased them in March in response to a complaint from NORPAC, a hedge fund-owned paper mill in Longview, Wash., that employs about 300 people. The mill, owned by New York-based One Rock Capital Partners, claimed it was being harmed by subsidized newsprint from Canada.

About 60 to 75 percent of U.S. newsprint comes from Canada, which claimed an ever-larger portion of the U.S. market over the last two decades as U.S. plants closed when newsprint demand declined.

The Tribune-Review has reduced page counts in its free weekly publications, eliminated some pages from its Sunday edition and implemented small increases in its single-copy prices to try and make up for the increased cost, but president and CEO Jenn Bertetto said earlier this month that an additional increase of $22.50 per metric ton would be coming in July.

The petition asks citizens to lend their support to a letter written to Rhonda Schmidtlein, chair for the International Trade Commission in Washington, D.C.

“Beyond specific direct and indirect job losses, the closure of local newspapers damages the fabric of America more broadly,” the letter reads. “A free press and informed citizens at the local level are at the foundation of democracy. In many towns and rural communities, the local newspaper is the chief source of information that affects daily life for citizens, and keeps the community connected with one another.”

The tariffs, the letter argues, show that NORPAC is “clearly seeking specialized protection for itself at a very high cost – the destruction of tens of thousands of jobs in the printing and publishing industries, and the closure of local newspapers that are the glue of communities and central to local self-governance in every corner of America.”

For more, or to sign the petition, see the StopNewsprintTariffs.org website.

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