U.S. newspapers worry that Trump White House may slap 30% tariff on Canadian newsprint

Lisa DeSisto.
Lisa DeSisto.

If you think Comrade Trump (as I call him) has a love/hate relationship with the press now, just wait until his administration slaps a new 30% tariff on newsprint from Canada. In the past few days, several media outlets have reported that the U.S. Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration is set to issue a preliminary determination by March 7 on whether Canadian imports into the United States of certain uncoated groundwood paper meet legal standards to qualify for imposing duties.

Here’s what Lisa DeSisto, publisher of Maine’s largest newspaper, the Portland Press Herald, said in a year-end letter to its readers: “We’re facing a new challenge that threatens our newspapers. The Trump administration is looking to impose a tariff on newsprint from Canada, which would have a disastrous effect on the entire newspaper industry. We purchase all our newsprint from Canada, as Maine mills no longer produce it. It would be near impossible for us to absorb a 30% increase in newsprint costs. We hope the president backs away from that idea, because it could hamper our ability to bring you the journalism you have come to expect from us.”

Also, The News Media Alliance (the U.S.’s influential newspaper trade association) is now organizing its resources to fight the possible newsprint tariff. “These duties, if implemented, have the potential to run many small-town newspapers out of existence,” said Chief Executive David Chavern last month. (Editor’s note: As Comrade Trump continues his attacks on the media, especially newspapers that don’t agree with him, I guess one way for him to fight back is to put them and their employees – who also may have voted for him – out of business and journalists unemployed. It’s his way of making America great again, I guess. We’ll keep you posted.)

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Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.