The North Bend Eagle

 

Tariff threatening newspapers

Nathan Arneal
Published 7/18/18

As you likely know, things have been difficult for the newspaper industry recently. Now our own government is unnecessarily making it much harder for papers to stay in business.

Recently instituted tariffs are threatening to drastically increase the costs of doing business for newspapers. These tariffs run as high as 32 percent on newsprint imported from Canada. Can you imagine what would happen to your business if your expenses increased by 32 percent overnight?

Personally, I have a huge trade deficit with the grocery store.

Many newspapers, from the big city dailies to the small town weeklies, would have to cutback already reduced staff or even worse, close altogether. The Omaha World-Herald ran a full page ad against the tariff July 8. The Eagle ran an ad against it May 30. Every newspaper that is printed will be affected.

Canada has a lot of trees, and therefore makes a lot of paper. Paper mills in the U.S. are not capable of meeting the demands of U.S. printers. There are five such newsprint paper mills in the United States and 27 in Canada. Around 75 percent of American newsprint comes from Canada, and in the Midwest and Northeast, which are far away from the U.S. mills located in either Washington, Mississippi or Georgia, it’s 91 percent Canadian.

The increased difficulties in importing newsprint are already being felt.

The North Bend Eagle is printed at the West Point News, who gets its newsprint from a Canadian supplier. The print manager at West Point told me he used to schedule newsprint deliveries three months in advance. Now he has to order paper a year in advance.

Another publisher I know in western Nebraska was told his scheduled paper shipment was going to be more than a month late. He had to make a four-hour drive to borrow a paper roll from another printer just so he could get his newspaper out.

We believe newspapers serve a vital role in society. It’s more than just providing interesting stories. It’s providing for an informed citizenry, and this tariff threatens the ability to do that while putting thousands of jobs at risk.

This all started because a single paper supplier in the state of Washington – owned by a New York hedge fund – complained that it wasn’t able to fairly compete with Canadian imports of uncoated groundwood paper, which is used for newsprint, directories and other products. This spring the Department of Commerce enacted the tariffs.

I don’t really agree with tariffs in general. Who ends up paying for the tariffs? Of course, the increased costs of importing don’t come out of the pockets of the foreign manufacturers. It will be passed along to the American consumers who want and need the now-more-expensive products. Raising prices on American consumers doesn’t seem like a good tactic in a trade war to me.

Our president seems to be obsessed with trade deficits and thinks tariffs are a way to correct the imbalance.

Personally, I have a huge trade deficit with the grocery store. I give them lots of money, and they never buy anything from me. Am I getting taken advantage of? No, because I am getting products that I need. I get groceries, the store gets money. Everyone is happy! That’s how trade works. Charging a 30 percent fee to carry the groceries into my house isn’t going to help anything.

As of now, the tariffs are not permanent. They will be reviewed by the International Trade Commission, with a decision on making them permanent expected this fall. There is currently a bipartisan bill called the PRINT Act in the Senate which would suspend the tariffs until the Department of Commerce can further study the implications being brought upon an entire industry at the request of a single paper mill in Washington. (None of the other American paper mills have joined in the complaint.)

If you enjoy newspapers like the North Bend Eagle, please let your congressional representatives know. You can find more information and sign an online petition at stopnewsprinttariffs.org.


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