Makin and PIA push its members to ask U.S. lawmakers to reconsider new duties on Canadian paper

U.S. Senator Susan Collins.
Susan Collins.
U.S. Senator Angus King.
Angus King.

The Printing Industries of America (PIA) is endorsing the Protecting Rational Incentives in Newsprint Trade Act of 2018 (or PRINT Act) introduced earlier this week by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (Republican, Maine) and Angus King (Independent, Maine). The PRINT Act would require a pause in the imposition of new duties on Canadian uncoated groundwood (UGW) paper imports until the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) completes a study on the economic health of the printing and publishing industries. The PIA encouraged member companies in an open e-letter May 15 to contact their U.S. senators immediately to urge support of this legislation – via the PIA’s STOPP (Stop Tariffs on Printers and Publishers) campaign – and to take any action possible to prevent these tariffs from further damaging the industry. A live link was provided. The e-letter added: “Also, if your company is being hurt now by these tariffs, please tell the PIA your story so we can better advocate on your behalf. Let us know how your company, employees and customers are being impacted due to tariffs on uncoated groundwood paper.”

PIA President & CEO Michael Makin.
PIA President & CEO Michael Makin.

Makin speaks out. PIA President & CEO Michael Makin also released the following statement regarding the introduction of the PRINT Act: “Printing Industries of America (PIA) has spent the better part of 2018 informing the Department of Commerce of the unique circumstances in the trade-remedy case targeting Canadian imports of uncoated groundwood (UGW) paper, providing a realistic viewpoint of paper consumption, and explaining the devastating impact taxing this product is having – now – on the print and publishing industries. Currently, alleged anti-dumping tariffs and countervailing duties are being collected at the border and printers are feeling the effects of market upheaval in regards to scarce supply and higher costs being passed on to end-users. While the PIA respects U.S. trade law and understands a quasi-judicial process to determine final injury to the sole petitioning paper company must proceed, the association also has a responsibility to stand up for its member companies caught in the cross-hairs of this ongoing investigation. The printing industry is constantly innovating and reinventing itself to stay competitive in the modern communications marketplace. Taxing our most essential raw material drags down the industry’s job creation, economic growth and future viability. The reality is that demand for newsprint and electronic alternatives – not unfair foreign competition – has driven down consumer use of newsprint. That’s why PIA applauds Senators Collins and King for standing up to say ‘time out’ on behalf of the printing and publishing industry by introducing the PRINT Act.

This bipartisan bill would require the Department of Commerce to conduct an economic well-being study on the printing and publishing industry and pause any affirmative determinations on final tariffs until President Trump has certified receipt of the report and has concluded such determinations are in the national interest. Most importantly, the PRINT Act would halt the current collection of cash deposits for Canadian UGW imports. Trade-remedy laws are designed to help domestic industries attain a level playing field on which to succeed – not to create an exponential number of domestic losers in the process. The PRINT Act is crucial to restoring a much-needed sense of sanity surrounding tariffs on uncoated groundwood paper. PIA endorses this legislation and will continue to work to highlight the need for rational decision-making in relation to this ill-conceived tariff.”

More about the USA’s PRINT Act of 2018

  • Requires a study by the Department of Commerce (DOC) of the economic well-being, health and vitality of the newsprint industry and the local newspaper publishing industry in the United States.
  • Requires a report from the Commerce Secretary to the President and Congress within 90 days that includes both the findings of the study and any recommendations the Secretary considers appropriate.
  • Pauses any affirmative determination by the Department of Commerce (DOC) or the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) until the President certifies that he has received the report, and that he has concluded that such a determination is in the national interest.
  • Halts the collection of cash deposits for UGW imports from Canada until the President has made such certifications.
  • Introduced by U.S. Senators Collins and King along with lead co-sponsor Senators Blunt (MO), Capito (WV), Fischer (NE), Isakson (GA), Jones (AL), McCaskill (MO), Moran (KS), and Wicker (MS).

The complete text of PRINT Act of 2018 is available here.

Editor’s note: This decision is already having – and will have – a huge impact on Canadian paper mills. The saddest part is that the original complaint came from just one U.S. paper company. However, the DOC is forced to react and begin the assessment process. I’ve followed U.S. politics for over 30 years (guess I’m some sort of masochist!), and Collins and King are among the most reasonable lawmakers in the Senate representing one of the most forward-thinking states in the union. One of the primary reasons they want a pause, is that duties on Canadian UGW imports (as we reported here a few months ago) could result in the loss of hundreds and even thousands of jobs in the state of Maine alone – not to mention the crippling of hundreds of smaller community newspapers across the U.S. who simply can’t afford the higher prices of USA-sourced paper products, particularly newsprint. Then again, when you’re dealing with a U.S. president who’s a compulsive liar and characterizes media outlets that don’t agree with him as ‘fake news,’ why should he care if printed newspapers that don’t agree with him go belly-up? The situation is comparable to U.S. tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber. They’d add anywhere from $3,000 to $4,000 to the cost of a new home in the U.S., simply because America can’t produce adequate supplies of softwood lumber on its own. Perhaps this is comrade Trump’s idea of how to ‘Make American Great Again.’

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Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.