Jones co-sponsors legislation to protect community papers from harmful tariffs

Jones co-sponsors legislation to protect community papers from harmful tariffs

By Staff Reports

Washington, D.C. According to the Officer of Senator Jones: U.S. Senator Doug Jones (Ala.) today co-sponsored the Protecting Rational Incentives in Newsprint Trade Act of 2018 (PRINT Act) to address the crisis facing printers and community newspaper publishers in Alabama and across the United States.  This bipartisan legislation, which has been endorsed by printers and publishers representing more than 600,000 American jobs, would suspend the import taxes on uncoated groundwood paper while the U.S. Department of Commerce examines the health of—and the effects on—the printing and publishing industry. The legislation was introduced by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine).

“Community and rural newspapers are so often the lifeblood of towns and cities across Alabama,” said Senator Jones. “For local papers who have struggled to stay afloat after the Great Recession and through the rise of digital media, these tariffs could spell the end of their business. The PRINT Act calls for a common-sense look at these tariffs, ensuring a thorough and publicized review by the Secretary of Commerce, the President, and Congress before any further action is taken.”

Senator Jones has been active in opposing these tariffs due to their impact on Alabama’s small community newspapers. He recently wrote to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to urge him to review the tariffs, and requested to testify at an upcoming International Trade Commission hearing on this issue in July.

The U.S. Department of Commerce initiated anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations in late 2017 into the Canadian uncoated groundwood paper industry on behalf of a single domestic paper mill.  This paper is used by newspapers, book publishers, and numerous other commercial printers in the United States.  The import taxes are as high as 32 percent on some products, and that cost is passed on to printers, book publishers, and newspapers that are already under severe economic stress.

Nearly all of the U.S. paper industry opposes these import taxes, including the large trade association representing the entire industry, the American Forest and Paper Association, because the Department of Commerce’s action threatens to decimate the paper industry’s customers and injure printers and publishers.

In addition to Collins and King, the bill is also cosponsored by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

Specifically, the PRINT Act would:

  1. Require a study by the Department of Commerce of the economic wellbeing, health, and vitality of the newsprint industry and the local newspaper publishing industry in the United States;
  2. Require a report from the Commerce Secretary to the President and Congress within 90 days that includes both the findings of the study and any recommendations the Secretary considers appropriate;
  3. Stay the effect of proceedings of the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission in regards to uncoated groundwood paper until the President certifies that he has received the report and that he has concluded that such a determination is in the national interest; and
  4. Halt the collection of deposits for uncoated groundwood until the president has made such certifications.