U.S. trade panel strikes down Trump's Canadian newsprint tariffs, in win for newspapers, loss to private equity firm

Worker loads newsprint
(Image credit: Natalie Behring/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, the five-member U.S. International Trade Commission unanimously overturned Trump administration tariffs on Canadian newsprint, handing a win to struggling small and midsize newspapers and a loss to the New York private equity firm One Rock Capital Partners. The Commerce Department had levied the tariffs starting in January at the request of One Rock, which purchased the Washington State paper mill North Pacific Paper Co. (Norpac) in 2016. One Rock executives met with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross personally to push for the tariffs, arguing that Canadian newsprint was unfairly subsidized.

The ITC, an independent government agency that adjudicates unfair trade practices, disagreed, saying its investigation "determined that a U.S. industry is not materially injured or threatened with material injury by reason of imports of uncoated groundwood paper from Canada." Its ruling means Canadian newsprint providers will no longer have to pay the 20 percent tariff. The levies had caused significant damage to newspapers, prompting layoffs, reduced page counts and publication days, and even closures. Newsprint is typically the No. 2 cost for newspapers, after employee salaries. Lawmakers from both parties and across the country had protested the tariffs.

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.