The U.S. Department of Commerce says it has ended countervailing duties on supercalendered paper from Canada that have been in place since 2015. (Carolyn Kaster/The Canadian Press/AP/file)

Duties imposed on Canadian newsprint by U.S. called unfair


In its latest attack on free trade with Canada, the United States has slapped anti-dumping duties on Canadian newsprint producers averaging over 22 per cent. This is on top of an average 6.53 per cent in countervailing duties levied in January, bringing the total to more than 26 per cent.

It’s not much consolation that this is less than the almost 55 per cent rate requested by the Washington-based North Pacific Paper Company which filed a petition in August 2017 alleging Canada was dumping newsprint in the United States.

Duties will cause U.S. job losses, argues Canada

Canada issued a statement saying the duties “will have a direct and negative impact on U.S. newspapers, especially those in small cities and towns, and result in job losses in the American printing sector.” It goes on to say it will continue “defend this vital sector against unfair and unwarranted U.S. trade measures and practices.

This is the second time the U.S. has slapped duties on Canada’s forest industry. In December 2017, a U.S. trade commission upheld tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber saying the product was subsidized. Canada filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization. Canada has won previous disputes with the United States over softwood lumber.

Canada is contesting U.S. duties on softwood lumber, as it has successfully done in the past. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press/file)

Trump plays hard ball

The U.S. imposition of duties is the latest in the Trump administration’s vow to stop what it sees as unfair trading practices. President Donald Trump has vowed to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. Attempts to renegotiate the agreement are ongoing. Trump has temporarily exempted Canada and Mexico from recently-announced tariffs on steel and aluminum, depending on the outcome of NAFTA negotiations.

Canadian politicians at all levels and business leaders have travelled to the U.S. to argue that free trade benefits all three nations. Many U.S. governors and business leaders agree but trade negotiators continue to toe the protectionist line.

Protectionism could seriously harm Canada

Threats to trade between Canada and the U.S. are grave given that it accounts for 64 per cent of Canada’s total merchandise trade with the world.

As the Canadian government news release points out, “Canada’s forestry industry sustains good, middle-class jobs and provides economic opportunities for rural and Indigenous communities across our country.” In 2013, production in the forest sector contributed $19.8 billion or 1.25 per cent to Canada’s real gross domestic product.

Canada is the world’s largest exporter of newsprint

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