Book Manufacturers’ Institute Joins STOPP Coalition
The Book Manufacturers’ Institute (BMI) officially joined the STOPP Coalition, which stands for Stop Tariffs on Print and Publishers. The STOPP Coalition consists of printers, publishers, and paper suppliers, as well as their associated trade groups, that represent mostly small businesses in local communities that employ more than 600,000 workers in the United States. Other members include the Printing Industries Association, Local Search Association and the News Media Alliance. BMI President, Jim Fetherston (CEO of Worzalla), will join others for a meeting with the Department of Commerce on February 22, 2018 to discuss the issue.
A single paper supplier, NORPAC, alleges that Canadian imports of uncoated groundwood paper (UGW), which is used for newsprint, directories, book publishing, and circulars, are being subsidized or shipments are being dumped into the United States, putting downward pressure on price. NORPAC has asked the Department of Commerce (Commerce) and the International Trade Commission (ITC) for duties that range up to 50 percent on the purchase price of Canadian paper. NORPAC is an outlier, owned by a New York hedge fund, with no additional pulp or paper operations in the United States or globally. The majority of the U.S. newsprint manufacturers, and even the trade association for the U.S. paper industry - the American Forest and Paper Association - as well as their U.S. customers, oppose the NORPAC petitions.
The ITC, in September, made a preliminary determination that there was a “reasonable indication” of injury or threat of injury, which is a very low bar for moving forward. Commerce released, on January 9, its preliminary determination assessing countervailing (anti-subsidy) duties on uncoated groundwood imports from Canada. These duties range from 4.4 to 9.9 percent with an average of 6.53 percent.
A decades-long shift toward digital platforms is the reason for the financial harm to U.S. newsprint producers; not unfair pricing from Canada. Since 2000, the demand for newsprint in North America has declined by 75 percent. Newsprint tariffs will hurt, not help, the U.S. newsprint industry. Printers and publishers cannot absorb increased costs and will cut production, print fewer pages, and shift more of their content and – subscribers – to digital platforms. This cost cutting will drive down demand for newsprint, ultimately hurting the long-term prospects for U.S. newsprint manufacturers, including NORPAC.
Commerce is expected to release its decision on anti-dumping duties on March 9. Members of Congress are encouraged to contact Secretary Wilbur Ross and his policy team to communicate that duties on newsprint will accelerate a well-documented decline in the printing and publishing industry, and will ultimately lead to thousands of job losses in the U.S. printing and publishing sectors. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) had already emerged as a vocal champion on the issue; this week Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) made it a bipartisan issue by publishing a passionate letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on behalf of the industry. (Both Isakson and Schumer were solid advocates of preserving the advertising deduction as well.)
The ITC will conduct its final investigation in the Spring, which includes receiving public comment and testimony. Members of Congress can help by submitting comments and testifying before the agency to express the view that a single paper producer with approximately 260 employees should not be allowed to manipulate our trade laws and threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States.