Industry responds after U.S. decision to impose newsprint duties

Catalyst Paper with mills in Crofton and Port Alberni hit with a 6.09 per cent countervailing duty from the United States

"What the USA uncoated groundwood papers industry wants is a level playing field, and this decision is an important step forward for American producers, workers and their families that have been the victims of unfair Canadian trade practices for too long", stated Norpac chief executive Craig Anneberg.

But that's what will happen if the federal government imposes duties of up to 50 percent on Canadian newsprint, upon which American newspaper companies rely. US newsprint buyers fear that steep import duties of up to 50 percent could increase both Canadian and domestic newsprint prices.

"Today's preliminary decision allows US producers to receive relief from the market-distorting effects of potential government subsidies while taking into account the need to keep groundwood paper prices affordable for domestic consumers", said Secretary Ross.

The U.S. Department of Commerce has made a decision to impose initial duties of up to 9.93 per cent against Canadian newsprint sold south of the border.

"What the USA uncoated groundwood papers industry wants is a level playing field, and this decision is an important step forward", company CEO Craig Anneberg said after Ross made his announcement.

However, Kursman said Norpac is referring to three states where Resolute operates paper mills.

"There will be no immediate change to our production", he said Tuesday. It was not immediately clear Tuesday how much more a metric ton of groundwood Canadian paper will cost.

It's the third time the USA has slapped duties on Resolute.

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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.

Kruger, the parent company of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, is one of the three companies targeted by the USA, but duties would apply to all Canadian producers.

In the longer term, however, Mason forecasts that the industry will face tough times due to dropping demand that will likely be sped along by higher prices for its customers, largely struggling US newspaper publishers.

"This is not really based on sound objective methods", said Neuheimer.

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.

The preceding press release was provided by a company unaffiliated with Printing Impressions.

The preliminary countervailing duties against Canadian newsprint producers come as Canada and the United States remain deadlocked during talks to renegotiate the North American free-trade agreement and amid the prolonged fight over softwood lumber. Other Canadian producers pay the weighted average of 20.23 per cent. Since then, USA producers' share of the American market has plummeted from 60 percent to 36 percent, the company said. "An escalation in paper prices would push some over the edge, and cost their communities not only the newspaper jobs but the news and advertising support that drives other local jobs".

With almost 400 non-union employees, Norpac is one of Cowlitz County's largest employers. A week after filing the petitions in August, the company announced that it would shut down one of its three paper machines in October, resulting in an undetermined number of layoffs and reducing the plant's capacity by almost one-third to 540,000 tons per year.

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