Kansas Sen. Moran wants newsprint tariff gone

May 18, 2018

Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran has joined a number of other senators supporting legislation that would protect publishers and printers from harmful tariffs.

The bipartisan group of 10 senators has introduced S. 2385, the “Protecting Rational Incentives in Newsprint Trade Act of 2018,” or the “PRINT Act.”

Paul Boyle, senior vice president for public policy at the News Media Alliance, said the PRINT Act would suspend new tariffs currently being imposed on imported uncoated groundwood paper from Canada, which is the primary source of newsprint and other paper used by domestic newspapers, book publishers and commercial printers.

The measure was introduced by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) introduced S. 2385. They are joined by Sens. Moran, R-Kan.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Va., Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Doug Jones, D-Ala., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., as co-sponsors.

The legislation also would require the Department of Commerce to review the economic health of the printing and publishing industries. Newspapers and printers across the United States have told Congress that the new import tariffs – as high as 32 percent – would jeopardize the viability of the industry and threaten to decimate the U.S. paper industry’s customer base.

Many local newspapers and printers that use uncoated groundwood paper have experienced price increases and a disruption in supply since preliminary countervailing and antidumping duties were assessed earlier this year. Even as the Commerce Department investigation is ongoing, the duties are already being collected on imports, causing immediate economic harm to printers and publishers. A final Commerce Department decision is expected on Aug. 2.

The new PRINT Act legislation would pause both the preliminary and any final duties while the department completes its study.

In introducing the legislation, Collins noted, “The U.S. printing and publishing industry is facing an unprecedented threat from crippling new import tariffs imposed on Canadian uncoated groundwood paper — better known as ‘newsprint’ — which is used by newspapers, book publishers and commercial printers. As a senator representing one of our nation’s leading papermaking states, I have consistently fought for actions to ensure a level playing field for the domestic papermaking industry.

“In this case, however, one domestic mill owned by a venture capital firm appears to be taking advantage of trade remedies to add to its own bottom line, putting thousands of American jobs at risk.”

How serious is the newsprint situation in Kansas?

Doug Anstaett, KPA executive director, surveyed a few members and found increases from 10 to 30 percent in what printers are charging their customers.

“This virtually wipes out the profit most newspapers are making and paves the way for more layoffs and disruption in our industry,” he said. “These tariffs are absolutely counterproductive and will cost jobs in communities across our nation.”

David Chavern, President & CEO, News Media Alliance, said: “Publishers already face economic headwinds due to the migration of advertising from print to digital. We simply cannot absorb extra costs from import taxes.

“Newspapers will close or be forced to raise prices for readers and advertisers. ... These tariffs are killing jobs and high-quality news in local communities.

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Susan Rowell, publisher of the Lancaster (S.C.) News and president of the National Newspaper Association, added: “Applying tariffs like a tax to industries simply to penalize struggling businesses does not enhance jobs. It takes opportunities away. If you want to silence a free press, take away the newsprint. That is what is happening now, and it is simply wrong.”