Trump taxes news readers

When President Donald Trump recently imposed unwise tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, he at least had the support of domestic steel and aluminum producers.

But prior to the those tariffs, when Trump unwisely slapped unwarranted tariffs on newsprint imported from Canada, he did so against the adamant opposition of every American newsprint manufacturer except one, North Pacific Paper (NORPAC).

Based in Washington but owned by a New York private equity firm, NORPAC sought tariffs as a means of rescuing itself from its own impending bankruptcy.

Now the initial tariffs of up to 32 percent on Canadian paper are being collected at the border, driving up paper prices by 20 to 30 percent and, in effect, imposing a tax on every American news reader to benefit a single company.

Whereas tariffs always are promoted as a means of protecting American jobs, these tariffs are far more likely to cost American jobs in paper production, journalism and other aspects of the publishing business, while driving up costs for consumers.

The tariffs misrepresent the nature of the newsprint market, which always has been regional rather than national. Market share and pricing are not the result of Canadian dumping below production costs, but of geography. U.S. Northeastern and Midwestern markets always have procured paper primarily from Canada.

Due to the rise of digital information, demand for newsprint in North America has declined by 75 percent since 2000. Current price increases could arise only from an artificial construct such as Trump’s tariffs, which should be rescinded in the name of capitalism.

— The Scranton Times-Tribune



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