Trump loses trade war battle with US newspapers


A huge 20 percent tariff affecting publishers got quashed.

Trump's war on the media suffered a setback on Wednesday, when recent U.S. tariffs against Canadian newsprint were rejected.

Earlier this year the Commerce Department slapped a 20 percent tariff on newsprint imported from Canada, following a claim by a hedge fund-owned American newsprint company that alleged Canadian companies were dumping product in the U.S. and driving down prices.

But in order for the tariffs to become permanent, the International Trade Commission had to agree that American companies were being harmed.

On Wednesday, the group announced "a U.S. industry is not materially injured or threatened with material injury by reason of imports of uncoated groundwood paper from Canada that the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) has determined are subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value.”

Press supporters cheered the decision. Stop Tariffs on Printers & Publishers, a coalition of printers, publishers, retailers, paper suppliers and distributors, called it a "a great day for American journalism," and stressed that the demise of the tariffs "means local newspapers can focus once again on playing a vital role in our democracy by keeping citizens informed and connected to the daily life of their communities.”

The trade war fees had been wrecking the bottom lines of newspapers across the country, forcing layoffs and even threatening newsroom closures.

"The Trump administration’s decision to impose tariffs on Canadian newsprint is hastening the demise of local newspapers across the country, forcing already-struggling publications to cut staff, reduce the number of days they print and, in at least one case, shutter entirely,” the New York Times recently reported.

The Tampa Bay Times had to lay off approximately 50 employees this year in order to pay for the $3 million increase in newsprint costs.

Newspapers such as the (Grand Junction) Daily Sentinel in Colorado, the (Natchez) Democrat, and the Vicksburg Post in Mississippi, the Salisbury Post in North Carolina, and the Athens Messenger in Ohio have reduced the number of days they published this year, in direct response to Trump’s newsprint trade war.

And in Ohio, the Jackson County Times-Journal's owner in July explained it was shutting down the newspaper due to the "closing of major retail chains, consolidations of other retailers and health-care providers and the ongoing tariff on newsprint have resulted in diminished revenue opportunity and increased costs."

Now free of an unjust financial burden, newspapers can focus their attention on doing what Trump hates the most — reporting facts and informing the public.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.