Financial pressure on newspapers eases with rejection of tariff

SPEARFISH, S.D. (KEVN) - Around 900,000 jobs in the news print industry were in jeopardy before the U.S. International Trade Commission rejected tariffs imposed by the U.S. Commerce Department on imported Canadian newsprint.

A newsprint out of the state of Washington filed a grievance with the Department of Commerce back in November of last year because they felt the Canadian news print manufacturers had an unfair advantage.

This complaint by the North Pacific Paper Company was then impacting the Black Hills Pioneer and other local newspapers around the country.

It was placing a tariff on products they were getting from Canada.

Black Hills Pioneer president and publisher, Letti Lister, says “These tariffs impacted a load of newsprint for us by almost $6,000 and that translated to nearly $90,000 a year just for our company.”

The International Trade Commission did rule unanimously that the Canadian imports were not harming the U.S. paper industry.

But if this outcome was different, this would impact more than just journalists in the news business.

For the Pioneer, they print weekly newspapers for other publishers and they print grocery inserts for three local grocery stores in addition to their own product.

This means they are printing more than ever before, but this Washington news print company was asking for them to add even more.

“Our company had seen a 22 percent increase in our newsprint over a series of five increases since November of 2017. Other publishers in the state of South Dakota that do what we do, print for other publishers, they had seen rates go as high as 33 percent and NORPAC was looking for a 52 percent increase which is just impossible to be able to absorb that,” explains Lister.

The North Pacific Paper Company could come back and reapply, or file a complaint about the tariff rejection.

Lister is hopeful with the unanimous vote and the backing of high state officials that we won't see this tariff come back.