USA newsprint duties will accelerate shift to digital: Resolute

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The same argument used against Canadian softwood lumber is being used in the U.S.to justify duties against Canadian newsprint: i.e. that Canada's Crown forest tenures are, in essence, a form of public subsidy.

As a result of today's decision, Commerce will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to collect cash deposits from importers of uncoated groundwood paper from Canada based on these preliminary rates.

About half of the newsprint produced by the mill in Corner Brook is exported to the US, totalling about 120,000 tonnes a year.

"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.

"It's a big deal if it happens", said Lisa Hills, executive director of the Minnesota Newspaper Association, a trade group that represents about 320 daily and weekly newspaper members. All sales of newsprint into the USA will cost American newspapers 6% to 6.5% more.

The letter didn't include publishers of larger papers, but concerns there are similar.

The complaint was filed last month but was released Wednesday.

"As for our customers, many can barely pay their printing bills now", the letter said. Anything that further reduces demand is a blow to the newspaper industry, say trade associations in Canada and the U.S.

In a bipartisan letter, Stefanik and 35 other members of Congress also urged Commerce to "carefully investigate the issue, and consider the negative impact that any trade remedy would have on the US newspaper and commercial printing industries, as well as the overall USA paper manufacturing industry".

The U.S. Department of Commerce's Enforcement and Compliance unit within the International Trade Administration is responsible for vigorously enforcing U.S. trade laws and does so through an impartial, transparent process that abides by international law and is based exclusively on factual evidence.

Catalyst Paper, with mills in Crofton and Port Alberni, hit with a 6.09 per cent countervailing duty from the United States.

Canada is the largest exporter of newsprint in the world, with a market dominated by Resolute Forest Products (TSX:RFP), Kruger and Catalyst Paper Corp. of BC.

"This additional cost resulting from these tariffs will be significant, and yes, they will directly impact us locally here in Jacksonville, Florida, just like any other local newspaper in America", Nusbaum said.

Officials at both One Rock Capital Partners and NORCO did not respond to requests for interviews or statements about the case.

The petitioner is North Pacific Paper Company (WA). A week after filing the petitions in August, the company announced that it would shut down one of its three paper machines in October, resulting in an undetermined number of layoffs and reducing the plant's capacity by almost one-third to 540,000 tons per year.

"What the USA uncoated groundwood papers industry wants is a level playing field, and this decision is an important step forward for American producers, workers and their families that have been the victims of unfair Canadian trade practices for too long".

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