US goes ahead with tax on Canadian newsprint

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Commerce Department is going ahead with a tax on Canadian newsprint, a threat to the struggling American newspaper industry.

The revised tariffs unveiled Thursday mostly are lower than those originally imposed earlier this year. But they still would hit the paper used by newspapers and other publications with an anti-dumping border tax as high as 16.88 percent.

The tariffs are a response to a complaint from a hedge fund-owned paper producer in Washington state, which argues its Canadian competitors are taking advantage of government subsidies to sell their product at unfairly low prices. Still, Commerce decided to spare two Canadian producers from the antidumping charges.

In addition to antidumping duties, Commerce is imposing newsprint levies ranging from 0.82 percent to 9.81 percent to counter Canadian subsidies.

The Commerce decision is not final. The independent U.S. International Trade Commission could change or kill the tariffs in a ruling scheduled for next month.

Newsprint usually is the second-highest cost for newspapers. Already contending with falling readership and plummeting advertising revenue, newspapers are struggling as the tariffs drive up the cost of newsprint.

The Robesonian newspaper in Lumberton, North Carolina, for instance, last week announced it was dropping its eight-page color comics sections from its Sunday edition to cut costs.

Other papers have turned to layoffs to help offset the additional costs of newsprint. The Tampa Bay Times announced in April it would lay off about 50 employees in response to a potential $3 million annual cost increase.

“This decision will make our jobs harder, in part because we know we will be able to employ fewer people to do those jobs,” said Alfredo Carbajal, president of the American Society of News Editors.

Congress overwhelmingly is opposed to the tariffs on the paper used by newspapers and other publications.