by Kurt Johnson
The talk of trade wars and the impact of tariffs hit very close to home this week with a ruling that could have severe consequences for newspapers large and small all across America.
The Department of Commerce recently announced countervailing and anti-dumping duties on Canadian imports of newsprint, which could range as high as 32 percent. That represents a significant sum in an industry where newsprint is typically one of the largest single expenses on the balance sheet.
Just as farmers are watching the headlines now on the trade war front, wondering how the political landscape will impact their bottom line at a time when low commodity prices already have them on edge, so too are publishers across the state and nation wondering how they can possibly absorb another financial blow at this time.
What is especially troubling about this issue is that these heavy tariffs were brought on as a result of complaints from a single newsprint mill in Washington state owned by a New York-based hedge fund. The North Pacific Paper Company (NORPAC) sought protection from what it deems as unfair competition with Canadian mills, though the rest of the industry knows that these tariffs will cause damage to newspapers and ultimately reduce the demand for newsprint.