NM urges reversal of newsprint tariffs

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján, Steve Pearce and Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday urged the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) to reverse tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on Canadian newsprint, which threaten local newspapers across New Mexico.

In a letter sent to USITC Chairman David S. Johanson as the ITC hears testimony on these tariffs, the New Mexico delegation wrote that the newsprint tariffs are already having an adverse impact on local newspapers and publishers — at a time when the journalism industry is already facing an array of other economic challenges.

“The journalism industry is grappling with a challenging economic landscape, including changes in how people access news and rapid shifts in advertising and other financial supports, factors which are exacerbated in smaller cities and towns and rural areas,” the lawmakers wrote. “On top of all of this, the newspaper industry is now facing duties on Canadian newsprint and changes to the cost of shipping, which could well be catastrophic for publishers in the southwest.

“The cost of newsprint has increased by over 20 percent since NORPAC filed its petition in August 2017. …”

This week, the Stop Tariffs on Printers and Publishers (STOPP) Coalition, which includes the New Mexico Press Association, announced that more than 10,000 Americans representing all 50 states signed a petition urging the USITC to reverse the tariffs because of the harm they cause to the U.S. paper and publishing industries. Over three hundred of those signatures were from New Mexicans.

“We agree with hundreds of the petition’s signatories from New Mexico in their call to protect a free press and ensure robust journalism to strengthen our democracy,” the NM delegation wrote. “… In many towns and rural communities in New Mexico, the local newspaper is the chief source of information that affects daily life for citizens, and keeps the community connected with one another. Local papers hold public officials accountable and preserve a sense of community by reporting on civic activities, high school sports, and issues relevant to local citizens.”

In January and March, the Commerce Department imposed preliminary import duties on Canadian groundwood paper, a kind of newsprint used by newspapers across the country. Commerce and the USITC are in the process of investigating Canadian imports and will make a final determination by September on the impact to U.S businesses.

In March, the delegation also wrote to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in opposition to the tariffs.

The United States International Trade Commission is an independent, quasi-judicial federal agency with broad investigative responsibilities on matters of trade.