Sen. Wicker testifies to international trade commission about impact of tariffs on newspaper industry

Published 4:05 pm Tuesday, July 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — Tariffs on imports of newsprint from Canada have already led to sharp increases in newspaper production costs, and new tariffs could push the costs even higher, threatening some 600,000 jobs nationwide, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, told the U.S. International Trade Commission on Tuesday.

Wicker testified in front of the (ITC) in opposition to tariffs on imports of newsprint from Canada and said new tariffs further threaten domestic newsprint producers, including those with operations in Mississippi.

“My greatest concern is how these tariffs will harm a major newsprint producer in my state, as well as the many small and rural newspapers who operate with small budgets and tight margins,” Wicker said during his testimony. “These tariffs will not hurt newspapers alone. Commercial printers, book publishers, and the many retail stores that advertise using newsprint will also suffer. Together, these sectors represent some 600,000 jobs and are located in every state across the country. It is for these reasons that I urge you to reject these tariffs.”

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Resolute Forest Products in Grenada is one of five mills in the United States that produces uncoated groundwood paper, also known as newsprint. The mill employs more than 160 workers, and supports an additional 500 jobs in the community, representing an economic impact of approximately $100 million.

The Mississippi Press Association, and the 110 newspapers the group represents, also opposes newsprint tariffs. Both the Vicksburg Post and The Natchez Democrat have cut production to five days per week in large part due to rising newsprint costs attributed to the tariffs.

“We appreciate Senator Wicker’s efforts to help overturn these harmful tariffs,” Democrat publisher Kevin Cooper said Tuesday. “Senator Wicker understands the impact they are having on small, community newspapers across Mississippi including all of those in Southwest Mississippi and on the newsprint mill located in Grenada from which our newsprint is purchased.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Commerce Department imposed tariffs, as high as 30 percent, on newsprint in response to claims by North Pacific Paper Company (NORPAC), a single paper mill operating in the Pacific Northwest. Other than NORPAC, the U.S. paper industry largely opposes the tariffs, because they are causing deep and lasting harm to the industry’s primary customers.

“Senator Wicker understands that more than 6-in-10 Mississippians read community newspapers each week and the tariffs are harming those newspapers that are keeping more than 1.5 million Mississippians informed each week,” Cooper said. “Sadly, if these tariffs continue and if newsprint costs continue to rise, newspapers will be forced to get smaller, in number of pages produced as well as employees on the payroll.”

In May, Wicker cosponsored the “Protecting Rational Incentives in Newsprint Trade (PRINT) Act.” The legislation would suspend the import taxes on newsprint while the Department of Commerce examines the impacts of these tariffs on the U.S. printing and publishing industry.