March 24, 2018

U.S. deals blow to Canadian newsprint producers with initial countervailing duties

13 January 2018, 08:53 | Opal Carroll

NewsAlert: Canada launches global trade complaint vs US over use of duties

Rise against proposed newsprint taxes

"We are deeply disappointed with the unjustified preliminary countervailing duty rates announced by the U.S. Department of Commerce", Chrystia Freeland, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources said in a joint statement.

Richmond-headquartered Catalyst Paper is among the Canadian companies that will be hit by new American duties of 6%.

The Commerce Department issued a preliminary ruling earlier this week that would impose tariffs of up to 10 percent on Canadian paper, but the department is not set to finalize its decision until May 22.

The Canadian government has since filed a complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) over USA trade remedy measures, requesting WTO consultations with the United States with respect to anti-dumping and countervailing duty proceedings.

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.

US newsprint buyers fear that steep import duties of up to 50 percent could increase both Canadian and domestic newsprint prices.

Meantime, the new duties will also put many local newspapers at risk of failing, according to US newspaper coalitions.

"Norpac has a world-class facility that can compete with anyone around the world, but we need to be able to compete on a level playing field".

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Congressional opponents of the duties rightly have concluded they would threaten an industry of 175,000 jobs and would "further damage the printed news industry in the United States, which has seen a more than 50 percent decline in advertising revenue over the last 10 years". "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".

"Any duties will have a direct and negative impact on USA newspapers, especially those in small cities and towns, and result in job losses in the American printing sector".

Resolute and Catalyst are the two mandatory respondents in the anti-dumping probe.

The preliminary countervailing duties against Canadian newsprint producers come as Canada and the United States remain deadlocked during talks to renegotiate the North American free-trade agreement and amid the prolonged fight over softwood lumber. About 80 per cent of newsprint is sold directly to newspaper publishers, Norpac estimates.

"B.C. lumber producers welcome the Government of Canada's efforts to vigorously defend Canada's interests in trade relations with the U.S.", Susan Yurkovich, president of the BC Lumber Trade Council, said in a press release.

It has asked the World Trade Organization to examine the use of duties in the United States, alleging that they violate worldwide law for five reasons. Ltd., Canfor Corp. and Tolko Industries Ltd.

The Commerce Department determined that duties would range from 4.42 to 9.93 per cent.

"The Department of Commerce will continue to evaluate and verify the accuracy of this preliminary determination while standing up for the American business and worker".

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