U.S. Reps. Brian Higgins (NY-26) and Elise Stefanik (NY-21) announced opposition to the January 9, 2018 preliminary decision by the U.S. Department of Commerce to impose tariffs on paper commonly used in the print industry.  Higgins and Stefanik are particularly concerned the measure will lead to added costs for consumers and potential job cuts for employees of large and small newspaper and book publishers across New York State and the nation. 

On August 9, 2017, North Pacific Paper Company brought a petition before the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA) alleging paper manufactured in Canada is priced in a way that cuts into their business. The Commerce Department’s preliminary decision calls for the imposition of tariffs of up to 10% on the import of uncoated groundwood paper from Canada. This type of paper is used for standard newsprint, bright newsprint, book publishing and other purposes.  It is estimated that the newspaper and commercial printing industry supports approximately 600,000 American jobs.  

“The proposed duties would cause undue burden, destabilizing the industry, forcing increases in subscription rates for consumers and reducing jobs in an area already stretched thin,” said Congressman Higgins, a member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade and Co-Chair of the Northern Border Caucus.  “Furthermore, local journalism is the core of our communities’ access to information about government, the economy and community activities; it should not be infringed upon by the claims of a single U.S. producer.”

“Our North Country economy relies on strong trade with our Canadian neighbors and these proposed duties would harm the many businesses that rely on these paper products,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “My district is home to a thriving local press corps that would be unfairly burdened by these costs, harming local journalism and the families across my district that rely on these important organizations.”

Over 1,100 local publications nationwide and 38 publications in New York State, in a letter to the Commerce Secretary wrote: “Facing increased costs of newsprint across all suppliers, many small-town papers will be at risk of failing.  To survive, some newspapers may resort to increasing print subscription prices, which would only exacerbate the severe challenges facing print newspapers.”

Prior to this week’s decision, Congressman Higgins wrote to the Commerce Secretary pointing out, “While there are many legitimate instances where U.S. industry needs to be protected from foreign producers – this is not one of them.  The petitioner’s charge is in fact opposed by the American Forest and Paper Association, which represents the broader U.S. paper industry.” 

In Rep. Higgins’ Western New York community The Buffalo News, Buffalo Business First and Niagara Gazette are among the publications that are impacted by the decision. 

In a bipartisan letter, Congresswoman Stefanik, and 35 additional members of Congress, also urged to Commerce Department to “carefully investigate the issue, and consider the negative impact that any trade remedy would have on the U.S. newspaper and commercial printing industries, as well as the overall U.S. paper manufacturing industry.”

Papers in Rep. Stefanik’s district that may be impacted include: the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, the Daily Courier-Observer, the Plattsburgh Press Republican, The Herkimer Times Telegram, The Ogdensburg Journal, The Leader Herald, The Malone Telegram, The Post-Star, The Saratogian, the Troy Record, the Watertown Daily Times, the Adirondack Journal – Elizabethtown, the Sun Community News, the St. Lawrence Plaindealer, The Adirondack Express – Old Forge, The Lake Placid News – Lake Placid, and the Times of Ti.

The Commerce Department is scheduled to announce its final determination in this matter on or around May 22, 2018.