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Jones supports PRINT Act on tariffs

Tuesday, in an effort to protect printers and publishers from unwarranted tariffs, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) introduced S. 2835, the “Protecting Rational Incentives in Newsprint Trade Act of 2018,” or “PRINT Act.” Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) joined as original co-sponsors.

The PRINT Act would suspend new tariffs currently being imposed on imported uncoated groundwood paper from Canada, which is the primary source of newsprint and other paper used by domestic newspapers, book publishers and commercial printers. Simultaneously, the legislation would require the Department of Commerce to review the economic health of the printing and publishing industries. Newspapers and printers across the United States have told Congress that the new import tariffs – as high as 32 percent – would jeopardize the viability of the industry and threaten to decimate the U.S. paper industry’s customer base.

Many local newspapers and printers that use uncoated groundwood paper have experienced price increases and a disruption in supply since preliminary countervailing and antidumping duties were assessed earlier this year. Even as the Commerce Department investigation is ongoing, the duties are already being collected on imports, causing immediate economic harm to printers and publishers. A final Commerce Department decision is expected on August 2.

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.

In introducing the legislation, Senator Collins stated, “The U.S. printing and publishing industry is facing an unprecedented threat from crippling new import tariffs imposed on Canadian uncoated groundwood paper — better known as ‘newsprint’ — which is used by newspapers, book publishers, and commercial printers. As a Senator representing one of our nation’s leading papermaking states, I have consistently fought for actions to ensure a level playing field for the domestic papermaking industry.  In this case, however, one domestic mill owned by a venture capital firm appears to be taking advantage of trade remedies to add to its own bottom line, putting thousands of American jobs at risk.  I encourage my colleagues to support this bipartisan bill to fully evaluate the economic impact of these tariffs before they harm our local newspapers and printing industries.”

Senator Jones has been active in opposing the 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.

“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.”

The ITC is conducting its final investigation in this case, which includes a public hearing on July 17, 2018. The Commission will reach a final determination in mid-September.