The legislative efforts of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and U.S. Reps. Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) to end federal tariffs placed on imported Canadian newsprint helped convince the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) to terminate the taxes.

Since the tariffs were put in place this January on imports of uncoated groundwood paper from Canada, newsprint costs increased for many local printers, book publishers and newspapers around the country, for some more than 30 percent, according to the lawmakers.

On Aug. 29, the ITC unanimously voted that the U.S. industry is not materially injured or threatened by the Canadian paper imports, which the U.S. Department of Commerce previously had determined were subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value. The ITC then said “no antidumping or countervailing duty orders will be issued on imports of this product from Canada.”

“Local newspapers document the heartbeat of small town South Dakota, but unnecessary newsprint tariffs have threatened their survival,” Rep. Noem said. “Getting these tariffs nullified was an important and hard-fought victory for more than 125 local newspapers in South Dakota, whose reporting strengthens our sense of community and connection.”

Sen. Collins said she was “delighted” that the ITC heard the concerns of industries and federal lawmakers, which for months complained that the import taxes “were severely harming publishers and printers, which employ hundreds of thousands of Americans.”

“The tariffs also threatened to negatively impact the U.S. paper industry by permanently shrinking its customer base,” Sen. Collins said.

Her Maine colleague in the U.S. House, Rep. Poliquin, called the ITC ruling “a huge win for Maine workers and Maine jobs.”

“This ruling corrects a misguided policy that had enabled a single producer in Washington State to take advantage of manufacturers across the country, including our mills in Maine,” said Poliquin, referring to the initial determination by the Commerce Department that was based on claims made by a single American manufacturer, the North Pacific Paper Co.

“I’m pleased the ITC has helped to level the playing field for Maine workers,” added Rep. Poliquin, whose staff said in a statement that 100 percent of the newsprint used by Maine newspapers comes from Canada, and newsprint costs in the state rose by 22.5 percent following institution of the import tariffs.

All three lawmakers this year applied legislative pressure on the ITC to kill the tariffs on imported Canadian newsprint.

In addition to sending letters to the ITC chairman and testifying before the commission, for example, Sen. Collins and Rep. Noem also introduced identical versions of the Protecting Rational Incentives in Newsprint Trade (PRINT) Act of 2018, S. 2835/H.R. 6031.

The bipartisan measure would temporarily suspend the tariffs so the Commerce Department could investigate their impact on local newspapers. The U.S. Senate version garnered 33 cosponsors while 38 members cosponsored the House bill.

“The strong, bipartisan support for reversing the ITC’s preliminary determination was reflected by the fact that the PRINT Act I introduced in May to suspend these tariffs was cosponsored by one-third of the Senate,” Sen. Collins pointed out this week. The “unanimous decision will help save jobs and ensure local newspapers remain strong, vibrant voices in their communities.”

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