Mark one down for the good guys.
The U.S. International Trade Commission voted Wednesday to stop Trump administration sponsored tariffs on Canadian newsprint.
The high-profile case pitted communities, elected officials, publishers and most of the domestic paper industry, along with businesses dependent on all those against a single U.S. newsprint producer owned by an East Coast investment firm.
The case brought forward by North Pacific Paper Company, commonly called NORPAC, claimed Canadian newsprint was being unfairly dumped into U.S. markets, creating what’s called a “material injury” to domestic newsprint producers.
The company claimed the current state of domestic newsprint production and pricing was a direct result of predatory pricing by the Canadian manufacturers, and petitioned for aggressive tariffs on imported newsprint.
Initial tariffs, imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce on newsprint while the case worked its way to the trade commission, resulted in prices spiking upwards of 30 percent since October.
Under closer scrutiny by the trade commission, NORPAC’s case simply didn’t hold water. The five members of the commission authoritatively turned away the request by a unanimous decision.
The real reason most newsprint consumed in the United States is imported from Canada is that domestic factories have retooled and moved on to other, more profitable products. The markets spoke, so to say. And we don’t fault newsprint manufacturers making decisions they believe best for their investments. What we took issue with was how one company intended to upend an entire industry by holding it hostage to misguided regulatory tariffs.
We used this space repeatedly over the past year to share with readers our deep concerns for how the proposed tariffs could dramatically undermine community newspapers across the nation by severely compromising their ability to serve their communities.
Fewer reporters, fewer pages for local advertising, and ultimately, fewer newspapers in markets that continue to rely on print for local news and information. And we meant every word of it. But we also knew we could not fight this fight alone. Fortunately, friends from all walks of life came to our side to help push back these unjustified and widely harmful tariffs.
What they did demonstrated their leadership and commitment to local businesses. Let’s use this moment as an example of the day local communities across the country came together with their elected officials and others to help turn back a dangerous, misguided and self-serving request from a single business to flip a market to its advantage — and potentially change the face of a nation forever. For all of those who answered the call for help, we thank you. You are the good guys.
Leonard Woolsey is publisher of The Galveston Daily News in Galveston, Texas.