Bindery Blog

Thoughts about the graphic arts industry and the world at large.

He's Coming After Your Paper

Trump and Paper

I was happy to see that there will be no new tariffs on Chinese printing and bindery equipment. The only problem is that man in The White house is coming after your paper, that is, Canadian paper. Apparently our trade deficit with our neighbor to the north needs to be addressed:

Data from both countries say that the U.S. imports more goods from Canada than it exports – the U.S. says the goods trade deficit was $12.1 billion. Canada has complained that the U.S. Trade Representative is falsely inflating that number by counting goods that merely pass through Canada from other countries.

Either way, the trade imbalance with Canada –America’s second-largest trading partner – is nothing like the $55 billion trade deficit with Mexico, or the $385 billion deficit with China – America’s largest trading partner. The trade deficit with European Union nations was $92 million, according to the U.S. Trade Representative.

One American company, The North American Paper Company, or Norpac, which is owned by a hedge fund, petitioned the commerce department for this new tariff. “Among US paper producers, the company is conspicuously alone in its petition for protective tariffs,” according to Steve Forbes in The Wall Street Journal. “ The trade group that represents paper mills, The American Forest and Paper Association, opposes the tariffs. As do scores of newspapers, book publishers, and printers around the country. They are rightly concerned that is the paper they use becomes more expensive, they will be forced to print less.”

Great news isn’t it? It’s not bad enough we have to compete with computers, tablets, and phones, now we have to pay more for paper. Fortunately congress is fighting back (yes you heard that right!) A bipartisan group of senators (yes you heard that right!) have introduced a bill that would delay dumping tariffs countervailing duties currently being applied to imports of Canadian paper. It would suspend the import taxes of up to 32% on Canadian uncoated groundwood paper. Led by Susan Collins (R) and Angus King (I) of Maine, the bill is cosponsored by six Republicans and three Democrats.

Canada imports about as much from The US as it exports. What is the point of punishing a trading partner with a more or less neutral trade deficit? What incentive does this give to other countries to lower our trade deficit with them?

“What’s especially striking now is that even industries Trump claims he wants to help are protesting his policies,” explains Paul Krugman in The New York Times, “General Motors warns that proposed auto tariffs could lead to less investments, fewer jobs, and lower wages for our employees.”

Mr. President, please stop helping us.

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