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U.S. International Trade Commission overturns Canadian newsprint duties

(Angela Major/The Janesville Gazette via AP, File)

The U.S. International Trade Commission has overturned duties imposed on Canadian newsprint by the U.S. Commerce Department earlier this year.

The commission said imports of the paper product, part of the wider category of uncoated groundwood paper, do not injure U.S. industry.

The U.S. Commerce Department had imposed anti-dumping and countervailing duties of various levels on Canadian producers including Resolute Forest Product, Catalyst Paper Corp., Kruger Inc., and White Birch Paper.

The U.S. International Trade Commission’s vote overrules the findings of the Commerce Department.

The vote comes after U.S. newspapers had campaigned to lift the duties that have pushed a core expense higher and forced layoffs at some papers.

David Chavern, CEO of U.S. newspaper industry group News Media Alliance, applauded the ruling Wednesday.

“The tariffs would have been unsustainable for newspapers, other printers and publishers and printers. Fortunately, our voice was heard at the ITC hearing last month, and they made the right call today in reversing these harmful tariffs,” Chavern said in a statement.

He said the group had emphasized in recent months that it was a decades-long shift from print to digital platforms that is causing a decline in newsprint demand, not imports from Canada.

The duties had come about after Washington-based North Pacific Paper Co. complained Canada was dumping newsprint into the U.S. market and unfairly subsidizing its industry.

The U.S. says US$1.21 billion worth of uncoated groundwood paper used for newspapers, commercial printing and book publishing was imported from Canada last year, down from US$1.46 billion in 2015.