Reviewing the Issue
Earlier this year, the Commerce Department imposed a newsprint tariff on uncoated groundwood paper imported from Canada. This sort of tariff is intended to protect U.S. industry by raising the price of a foreign-made object. But, in this case, the U.S. producers do not have the available capacity to meet the demand for this paper in this country. The only options available to American consumers and businesses were to continue to buy paper from Canada and pay the increased costs or find other non-print options to market their products and services. This tariff would have severe negative consequences to American businesses.
In early July, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) publicly voiced his opposition to the tariff in a press conference at Quad’s Saratoga Springs plant. The Senate Minority Leader stated clearly, “The bottom line here is that the Department of Commerce should reverse course.” He showed his support for the print industry, which he warned is “an already at-risk and extremely vital American industry that provides so many jobs and so much value to New Yorkers from one corner of the state to the other.”
Quad led an influential group to Washington, D.C., in late July to meet face-to-face with Wilbur Ross, Secretary of the Department of Commerce. The group included Quad Chairman, President and CEO Joel Quadracci; EVP, President of Logistics and Treasurer Kelly Vanderboom; and Quad’s Director of Government Affairs. The Quad team walked the Secretary through the unintended consequences these tariffs were already having on consumers of paper and their buying habits. Retailers, already dealing with substantial disruptions, cannot afford significant price increases in the raw materials and react by cutting down the volume of print or leaving print altogether. This in turn leads Quad, and other printers, to cut back on the amount of paper they purchase for customers – regardless of where the paper is sourced from. This puts even more jobs at risk at the U.S. paper producers – the very industry these tariffs were supposedly trying to protect.
More than 11,000 Americans from all 50 states, including Quad employees signed an online petition from the STOPP coalition (Stop Tariffs on Printers & Publishers). Quad was a founding member of the coalition which brought together printers, publishers, paper manufacturers, newspapers, book manufacturers, directories and retailers. In addition to Senator Schumer, more than 100 members of the U.S. House and Senate including Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, expressed concerns over the tariffs to the International Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce, and 19 federal lawmakers testified in-person, along with Quad, in opposition at an ITC hearing in July.
Acknowledging the Win
On August 29th, the International Trade Commission (ITC) unanimously voted to end the tariffs on uncoated groundwood paper imported from Canada.
Senator Schumer said in a news release, “The International Trade Commission made the exactly right decision today to completely eliminate them. I will remain vigilant to make sure that they never return.”
“It’s a tremendous relief to have the tariffs reversed,” added New York News Publishers Association President Diane Kennedy. “They were going to lead, certainly, to layoffs at certain newspapers and closure of newspapers. … Newsprint is the second-largest expense a paper has.”
Joel Quadracci calls this a “huge, huge win for the newspaper, printing, publishing and retail industries and for our customers who would have shouldered the bulk of the cost of the tariff.”