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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Canadian newsprint tariff just doesn’t make sense

Dear Rep. Andy Harris,

In March, after the U.S. Department of Commerce imposed a second round of preliminary tariffs on Canadian newsprint, which constitutes about two-thirds of this country’s supply, we asked you as our congressman to consider the damage that would do to newspapers large and small.

You replied that government has a duty to correct trade imbalances, implying that Canadian newsprint dumping is causing U.S. newsprint manufacturers to lose sales.

With a final tariff that could raise prices by 30 percent on the table this September, we repeat that is not the case. This country’s paper producers, which oppose these import duties, are leaving the newsprint business because newspapers are using less of it every year.

The New York-based hedge fund, One Rock Capital, must have known that when it bought the struggling North Pacific Paper Co. in Longview, Washington in October 2016, because it filed its unfair trade complaint just 11 months later.

The question, then, is whether One Rock is asking for government help because it didn’t understand the market, or is it using government to beef up its investment for purposes of profit later?

Meanwhile, newspapers need reasonably priced newsprint to survive and, on this level, to continue to serve as the main conduit of community information.

That’s why we’re wondering if this tariff proposition truly is about fair trade at all, since trying to correct a sales imbalance by forcing buyers out of business just doesn’t make sense.

Maybe the government wants to punish newspapers, or it’s backing a hedge fund to the detriment of everyone else, or it’s another way to strike at friendly Canada in pursuit of some other goal. Whatever the reason, higher costs will kill scores of newspapers and cost thousands of jobs.

On June 14, newspaper representatives will visit the capital to explain how these tariffs will aggravate, not improve, the paper products situation. We ask you to listen to them and to help us protect the 18 jobs that we provide.

We don’t pretend to know much about trade and economics, but it does seem illogical to believe that declining sales of anything can be fixed by raising the price.