Print Act introduced in House to protect publishers and printers from harmful tariffs
Rep. Kristi Noem, R-SD and Charlie Crist (D-FL) yesterday introduced legislation to suspend tariffs on Canadian imports of uncoated groundwood paper which includes newsprint used by newspapers, book publishers, printers and direct mail companies.
The legislation, H.R. 6031 – “Protecting Rational Incentives in Newsprint Trade Act of 2018” or “PRINT Act” – would temporarily halt both the preliminary and any final duties while the Department of Commerce (Commerce) completes its study on the economic health of the printing and publishing industries. The study would, among other things, examine whether the tariffs would harm local news coverage, reduce employment in the publishing and printing industries, or harm local businesses that advertise in local newspapers.
The House bill is identical to S.2835 that was introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) in May. At introduction, the House measure was supported by the following original co-sponsors: Representatives Bill Flores (R-TX), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Randy Weber (R-TX), Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Bruce Poliquin (R-ME), Glenn Grothman (R-WI), Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Jason Smith (R-MO).
Many local newspapers and printers have experienced price increases and a disruption in supply since preliminary countervailing and antidumping duties were assessed earlier this year. They have warned policymakers that the import tariffs – as high as 32 percent – would jeopardize the viability of the industry and threatens the over 600,000 U.S. workers in publishing, printing and related industries. The tariffs are being sought by one mill, North Pacific Paper Company, that is owned by a New York-based private equity firm.
“When the use of trade remedies threatens the jobs of hundreds of thousands of American workers, it bears asking if the cure is worse than the disease,” said Rep. Kristi Noem. “Each additional day these import taxes remain in place poses a threat to daily newspapers, printers, and the many small businesses that supply equipment and services to the publishing industry. We need to stem this damage immediately and gain a complete understanding of whether Canadian imports of newsprint are unfairly subsidized or pose a serious threat to U.S. paper producers.”
“An unnecessary trade war with some of our closest partners is already having real, negative consequences for our economy and the newspaper industry in particular. The Tampa Bay Times recently announced 50 employees would be laid off due to new tariffs – shrinking newsrooms at a time when thoughtful, credible reporting is needed most,” said Rep. Charlie Crist. “Newspapers are an integral part of our communities, employing our neighbors and keeping us informed. It’s encouraging to see bipartisan and bicameral support for protecting local news.”
The PRINT Act would:
1) require a study by Commerce on 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.
A final Commerce Department decision is expected on August 2. 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.
Because of the devastating impact of the tariffs on publishers, printers and other businesses, the legislation in the House and Senate has received widespread support from Stop Tariffs on Printing & Publishing (STOPP), a broad-based coalition representing the U.S. printing and publishing industries that was formed to fight these crippling tariffs.