Trump administration slaps tariffs on Canadian paper

President Trump's trade team is getting tougher on Canada.In a decision opposed by some Republicans, the Comme...

Posted: Jan 10, 2018 3:32 PM
Updated: Jan 10, 2018 3:32 PM

President Trump's trade team is getting tougher on Canada.

In a decision opposed by some Republicans, the Commerce Department late Tuesday applied tariffs as high as 10% to Canadian paper. This follows American tariffs of up to 18% on Canadian lumber, imposed last year.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says Canadian paper companies get subsidies from their national government and it's unfair to American competitors. In 2016, imports of Canadian paper totaled $1.3 billion.

The timing of the move is sensitive. Leaders from the United States, Canada and Mexico start the next round of talks on NAFTA, the three-nation trade pact, on January 23 in Montreal. Five rounds of talks have yielded no progress on divisive issues such as car manufacturing.

Trump made NAFTA a punching bag during his 2016 campaign. He promised to renegotiate it and bring jobs back from Mexico or withdraw from the 24-year-old agreement.

Related: U.S. and South Korea go head-to-head on trade

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called the U.S. action "unfair and unwarranted," and said the paper tariffs will cost American jobs.

U.S. congressional leaders had voiced strong opposition to any duties against Canadian paper, which they argue helps support 600,000 American jobs in newspaper publishing and commercial printing.

Eight senators, including Republicans Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins, urged Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to look closely at how the tariffs could affect "hundreds of thousands of Americans jobs." Seven Republicans signed the letter along with Senator Angus King, an independent from Maine.

Related: Remittances to Mexico on pace to reach all-time high

What's unusual about the paper tariff is that one small company in Washington state, Northern Pacific Paper, pushed for it. It employs 260 workers at its mill and is owned by the New York hedge fund One Rock Capital, which did not respond to CNNMoney's request for comment.

Resolute, a Canadian company that employs 2,500 Americans and will be hit by both the lumber and paper tariffs, called the Trump administration's decision "outrageous."

"This is an effort to perversely manipulate trade laws," Seth Kursman, Resolute's spokesman told CNNMoney on Wednesday.

Resolute has headquarters in Montreal and also employs 5,500 Canadians. Kursman would not speculate whether the tariffs would cost the company jobs. Other Canadian companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Related: U.S. trade deficit with China and Mexico is growing

According to Resolute, 90% of the newsprint in the American Northeast and Midwest -- the paper that newspapers are printed on -- is supplied by companies in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

The company argues that the tariffs won't translate into more business for Northern Pacific but will only hasten companies' transition to digital.

The Mississippi Press Association, which represents small- and medium-sized newspapers, warned one of its home state senators, Republican Thad Cochran, about the tariffs.

In a December letter, the association's members said that the tariffs would "have a severe, negative impact on the newspaper industry, and ironically, threaten more jobs in the U.S. than the jobs the petitions claim to protect."

Cochran did not sign the letter that Republican senators sent to Ross at the Commerce Department. His office did not immediately answer questions from CNNMoney.

--CNN's Paula Newton contributed to this report.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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CountyConfirmedDeaths
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Washington149232
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Smith38013
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Hancock33614
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Tippah31212
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Clarke30025
Montgomery2933
Tunica2786
Humphreys27111
Carroll24511
Greene22611
Quitman2251
Kemper22315
Perry2227
Amite2105
Jefferson Davis2026
Webster19912
Jefferson1936
Wilkinson18712
Sharkey1801
Stone1523
Choctaw1274
Benton1250
Franklin1162
Issaquena211
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 90890

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CountyConfirmedDeaths
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Mobile9086191
Montgomery6249143
Madison501425
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Baldwin321023
Shelby305032
Marshall296630
Unassigned273453
Lee250540
Morgan222315
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Elmore160237
Calhoun15609
Walker147063
Houston131912
Dallas128823
Russell12331
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Limestone119613
Cullman114111
Colbert109312
Lauderdale107112
Autauga102420
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Talladega91813
Jackson8283
Chambers82138
Tallapoosa81478
Dale78520
Butler75235
Blount7363
Chilton7106
Coffee7095
Covington70920
Pike6607
Barbour5635
Lowndes55224
Marion54224
Marengo52014
Clarke4869
Hale45926
Bullock43811
Perry4294
Winston42911
Wilcox4059
Monroe3914
Randolph38810
Bibb3743
Conecuh37310
Pickens3679
Sumter36118
Lawrence3100
Washington31011
Macon30913
Crenshaw2863
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Henry2453
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Geneva2320
Clay2175
Lamar1982
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