United States newsprint duties will accelerate shift to digital: Resolute

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The government of Newfoundland and Labrador is bracing for a US decision that could apply duties to newsprint exported into the United States.

USA newspaper publishers have been warning that a combination of countervailing and anti-dumping duties will have a devastating impact on an industry already struggling to cope as readers increasingly make the transition from printed products to digital devices.

Washington-based North Pacific Paper Co. filed a petition a year ago that argued American mills couldn't compete against Ottawa's support for Canadian producers, whose business in the United States was worth $1.3 billion in 2016.

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It has essentially claimed that Canadian government subsidies are giving Canadian newsprint producers an unfair advantage over USA paper producers, and that the Canadians are dumping paper on the US market at prices below the cost of production. The tariffs are expected to take effect within one week.

"We've seen papers like La Presse move to full digital, and if the cost of newsprint goes up, it's one of those factors that's going to accelerate a move to digital", said John Hinds, CEO of News Media Canada.

Newspapers and newspaper associations are uniting against newsprint tariffs.

Anneberg said that's a "small price to pay to preserve American manufacturing jobs" in Washington, Mississippi and Georgia.

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He predicted that this will result in more mill closures, and said the decision on duties benefits only Norpac.

Punitive duties on newsprint sales to the US pose a threat to B.C.'s biggest papermaker, though its mills have other export options to mitigate the impact.

"While we understand the concerns recently surfaced by some newspaper publishers, we strongly disagree with the notion that their industry requires low-cost, government-subsidized, imported newsprint from Canada to sustain its business model", he said.

"Any duties will have a direct and negative impact on U.S. newspapers, especially those in small cities and towns, and result in job losses in the American printing sector", the ministers said in a statement. The Daily News is printed on paper manufactured at Norpac.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Congress if necessary, owe it to the free flow of print news and the thousands of jobs threatened by this proposed tariff to say "no".

They explained that they will continue to work with the industry, and with Canada's provinces and territories, "to defend this vital sector against unfair and unwarranted United States trade measures and practices".

The complaint was filed last month but was released Wednesday. Ltd., Canfor Corp. and Tolko Industries Ltd.

Commerce will announce its final countervailing duty determination on or around May 22. All other Canadian producers weighted an average of 6.53 per cent. The revised softwood duties took effect on January 3, 2018, after preliminary tariffs that were set as high as 30.88 per cent.

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