Bipartisan Senators Introduce Bill to Halt Newsprint Tariffs

(Bloomberg) -- A bipartisan group of 10 senators led by Republican Susan Collins of Maine introduced a bill on Monday that would pause duties on paper imported from Canada for use in publishing, according to a news release from Collins’ office.

The bill also requires the U.S. Commerce Department to “conduct a study of the economic well-being, health, and vitality of the newsprint industry and the local newspaper publishing industry in the United States.” The president, after receiving the report, would have to find duties “in the economic interest of the United States” to maintain them or impose new ones.

"The U.S. printing and publishing industry is facing an unprecedented threat from crippling new import tariffs," Collins said in a statement.

In August 2017, a Washington State paper maker asked the U.S. government to impose duties on Canadian imports of uncoated groundwood paper, used in everything from newsprint to book publishing. North Pacific Paper Co., which is owned by One Rock Capital Partners, LLC, alleged Canadian imports are subsidized and are increasingly taking market share from domestic producers.

Newsprint Prices

Newsprint prices have jumped to the highest in five years since imposition. The Tampa Bay Times last month cut about 50 jobs, blaming the tariffs and the rising cost of newsprint.

David Chavern, president of the News Media Alliance trade group, said in a statement that added costs "are killing jobs and high-quality news in local communities."

The tariffs are separate from the duties the Trump administration has imposed on steel and aluminum imports as matter of national security, as well the levies proposed on as much as $150 billion in goods from China in response to allegations of theft of intellectual property and unfair trade practices. A hearing on the first $50 billion in Chinese goods targeted for tariffs starts Tuesday.

Senator Angus King of Maine, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, is joining Collins in introducing the bill. Eight other senators, including two Democrats, are cosponsoring it.

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