Federal Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr said he is ready to help the newsprint industry mitigate the effects of countervailing duties imposed last month by the US Department of Commerce.
Speaking Wednesday at the International Conference on Forest Bioeconomy in Montreal this week, he also promised a relentless fight before the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Free Trade Agreement. North American Exchange (NAFTA) against these protectionist measures, which he describes as “unfair and unjustified”.
“We expect to win as in the past, but we also know that by then it will not be easy for families and communities,” he said.
The US Department of Commerce announced in early January that it was imposing preliminary countervailing duties ranging from 0.65% to 9.93% on Canadian producers of uncoated paper, including newsprint.
Speaking to the press after his speech, Minister Carr said his government was fully prepared to support the industry and sit down with its representatives to discuss appropriate measures.
“We are very interested in helping the industry and are ready to sit down with its representatives to discuss the most effective ways the Government of Canada can help them,” said Carr.
The minister was open to a comprehensive approach similar to the softwood lumber industry, which also has tariffs and protectionist countervailing duties on the part of the United States.
While he has not closed the door on new funding, Carr said his government is looking for ways to help the paper subsector “through its support program.” $ 867 million “to the lumber industry.
“If there are other ways we can help them as conditions change, we have every intention of exploring with them what these options might be,” he said. specify.
The support plan for the softwood lumber sector includes loan guarantees for the industry, access to work-sharing programs for employees, funding to the provinces to support workers, investments in labor-market programs forestry innovation and programs to support the development of new markets.
The duties imposed by the United States stem from the complaint of NORPAC, a small producer in the state of Washington, whose plant has about 260 workers.
Its impact is significant in Canada, where about 25 paper mills are affected; the majority of these plants are in Ontario and Quebec.
In the case of Quebec, the measure has a direct impact on ten factories belonging to the Resolute, Kruger and White Birch mills, which employ some 2,000 workers in several regions (Alma, Amos, Baie-Comeau, Bromptonville, Clermont, Gatineau, Quebec, Rivière-du-Loup, Trois-Rivières).
Protectionist measures are also badly received in the United States by the printed newspaper industry, which struggles to survive in the current economic environment, where the giants of the web – including Google and Facebook – are capturing their advertising revenues.
The imposition of duties necessarily results in an increase in the cost of newsprint in the United States and the News Media Alliance, which represents 1100 American newspapers, is concerned about the impact on employment in the print media, already in crisis.
According to the organization, price increases caused by tariffs will force publishers and printers to reduce costs and possibly layoffs.