Canada 'deeply disappointed' by U.S. groundwood paper duty

Boyer  Times Union

Boyer Times Union

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. The duty against Kruger is 9.93% and the preliminary penalty against White Birch is 0.65%.

Duties have already come down on Canadian softwood lumber and Bombardier subsidies.

"If Canadian imports of uncoated groundwood paper are subject to duties, prices in the whole newsprint market will be shocked and our supply chains will suffer", the letter said.

A single business, the North Pacific Paper Co., or NORPAC, is championing the duties, petitioning the U.S. Commerce Department to adopt the tariff.

Anneberg said the company estimates the duties would increase the cost to produce the average printed newspaper by less than 5 cents per copy.

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He predicted that this will result in more mill closures, and said the decision on duties benefits only Norpac.

Mr. Boyle criticized Norpac, owned by hedge fund One Rock Capital Partners LLC of NY, for minimizing the ripple effects of the duties.

Kursman said Norpac was alone in its challenge because production margins are "razor thin".

On Wednesday, a wide range of individuals and groups in Canada slammed the duties, including Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr; Unifor, Canada's largest private-sector union; the Forest Products Association of Canada; and Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters. "Any duties will have a direct and negative impact on USA newspapers, especially those in small cities and towns, and result in job losses in the American printing sector".

"We will continue to work with our forest industry, provinces and territories, and communities across Canada to defend this vital sector against unfair and unwarranted United States trade measures and practices". It has asked the World Trade Organization to examine the American use of punitive duties, alleging that they violate worldwide law.

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Many newspapers don't print in their own facilities, so an increase in newsprint prices would also affect the printing industry, which sent a letter last month to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross urging him to reject a tariff on Canadian newsprint because it would further stress the financial viability of newspapers.

"Forest Products Association of Canada [FPAC] strongly believes that these duties are completely unjustified and protectionist in nature", said FPAC CEO Derek Nighbor.

"Manufacturers are strong proponents of free and fair trade and are concerned that this new tariff barrier will affect Canada's trading relationship with its most important partner, the United States", he said, adding that the duties will also drive up the prices of newsprint up in the US, hurting American consumers.

Norpac's petitions "are based on incorrect assessments of a changing market and appear to be driven by short-term investment strategies of the company's hedge fund owners", the letter said.

In response to the December 4 letter, Norpac sent another letter to Commerce last month accusing the News Media Alliance of supporting Canadian paper producers at the expense of American jobs and industry.

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