Bipartisan group introduces bill to protect publishers, printers from tariff

In an effort to protect printers and publishers from unwarranted tariffs, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) on Tuesday introduced S. 2385, the “Protecting Rational Incentives in Newsprint Trade Act of 2018,” or “PRINT Act.” Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) joined as original co-sponsors.

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. Simultaneously, the legislation 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 August 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, Senator Collins stated, “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. I encourage my colleagues to support this bipartisan bill to fully evaluate the economic impact of these tariffs before they harm our local newspapers and printing industries.”

“Throughout Maine, small town newspapers remain a principal source of information for people looking to read the news, learn about the goings-on in their communities, and stay up-to-date on current events,” Senator King said. “But new tariffs on uncoated groundwood paper could jeopardize this access to information and impact hundreds of thousands of American jobs in the U.S. newspaper business and paper manufacturing industry, which are already operating on razor-thin margins. I have consistently fought for stronger trade enforcement, especially when it involves protecting the domestic paper industry, and must take action to ensure the Department of Commerce hears the serious concerns of the domestic paper manufacturing industry. The PRINT Act would help us better understand the damaging consequences of the DOC’s decision to impose duties and help ensure local newspapers don’t bear an undue burden from these misguided tariffs, so people in Maine and in rural towns across America, can continue to receive their local news from hometown papers.”

Specifically, the PRINT Act would:

1) require a study by the DOC of the economic wellbeing, health and vitality of the newsprint industry and the local newspaper publishing industry in the U.S.;

2) require 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;

3) pause any affirmative determination by the DOC or ITC (U.S. International Trade Commission) until the President certifies that he has received the report and has concluded that such a determination is in the economic interest of the United States; and

4) halt the collection of cash deposits for uncoated groundwood imports currently under investigation at the Commerce Department until the president has made such certifications.

The ITC is conducting its final investigation in this case, which includes a public hearing on July 17, 2018. The Commission will reach a final determination in mid-September.

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