What you can do to help: Contact Congressional members to oppose tariffs

Countervailing duties are a type of tariff that is levied on imported goods to offset subsidies made to producers in the exporting country, according to the financial education website Investopedia.com.

This is the first of two announcements on duties, as the Department of Commerce is also expected to release a preliminary decision on antidumping duties on March 8. Anti-dumping duties are described as a “protectionist tariff” that is imposed on imported goods that a domestic government believes are priced below fair market value, according to Investopedia.com.

The U.S. International Trade Commission will conduct its own final investigation on the case later in the spring and is expected to reach a final determination by September.

 “(These) penalties are essentially permanent, unless there’s a separate agreement under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) that eliminates them,” Smithson said. “That is, of course, extremely unlikely in the current political environment.”

So far, 34 members of the House of Representatives and eight members of the U.S. Senate have signed letters in opposition to the duties that were sent to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

The petitioner for the countervailing and antidumping duties is the North Pacific Paper Company (NORPAC), which owns a single paper mill in Washington. The company is owned by a New York hedge fund operator with no other pulp or paper operations in the U.S. or worldwide, NMA said in a long list of talking points on the issue.

“We are stunned that a single U.S. mill in Longview, Wash., has been able to manipulate the trade laws to their gain, while potentially wreaking financial havoc on newspapers and other commercial publishers across the country,” said David Chavern, president and CEO of NMA, in a statement. “… This decision and its associated duties likely will lead to job losses in U.S. publishing, commercial printing and paper industries.

“The well-documented decline in the U.S. newsprint market is not due to unfair trade, but to a decade-long shift from print to digital distribution of news and information,” Chavern added. “Now, we will all literally pay for one manufacturer’s manipulation of our country’s trade laws.”

In response to the news, NNA President Susan Rowell urged publishers to attend the NNA’s Community Newspaper Leadership Summit March 14-15 in Washington, D.C., to “aggressively urge Congressional action to oppose a misguided tariff that jeopardizes community newspapers.”

“We join our colleagues at the News Media Alliance in fighting back against this ill-advised trade action,” Rowell said in a statement. “Instead of protecting American jobs, as the Department of Commerce is mandated to do, it puts in jeopardy the jobs of thousands of people in our industry, the printing industry and related trades and professions. We must make sure Congress understands the gravity of this threat.”

You’re encouraged to contact Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul as well as your U.S. Representative to make sure they know how the threat of imposing the duties will affect newspapers.

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