NEWSPRINT WOES HIT NEW MEXICO
Tariff threats hit local papers with rising costs, limited supplies
New Mexico newspapers are being hit with sharply rising newsprint costs along with tightening supply due to proposed U.S. tariffs, and they are bracing for things to only get worse.
Highlighting their concern was last week’s announcement by Canadian-based Kruger, which told its U.S. customers that it will accept no orders for newsprint shipments in August. The company, the thirdlargest newsprint maker in North America, had already announced a 40 percent reduction for July.
The two tariffs, one announced in January and the second in March, could add a total of 32 percent to the price of some paper imported to the United States.
“Certainly, I know the publishers I’ve spoken to — everyone is feeling it,” said Nick Seibel, president of the New Mexico Press Association and publisher of the Silver City Daily Press and Independent.
Danny Scott, publisher of the Artesia Daily Press, said the last order he purchased in April was 8 percent higher, and the broker through which he ordered wouldn’t guarantee shipment by September because of dwindling supplies. It used to take two months for a guaranteed delivery, Scott said.
Seibel said his paper has seen a 6 percent increase in costs, but it has been shielded from higher spikes because the company that prints the Silver City paper has absorbed some of the impact.
That won’t continue, Seibel said, if the International Trade Commission approves the tariffs. A hearing is
scheduled on July 17.
The tariffs were prompted by a complaint to the Commerce Department from North Pacific Paper Company, owned by New York hedge fund One Rock Capital Partners. The owners argue that Canadian competitors are taking advantage of government subsidies to sell their product at unfairly low prices.
Other American newsprint companies do not support the tariffs, Seibel said.
He said newspapers already have been buffeted by dwindling advertising and other issues that affect their markets.
“The frustrating thing for all of us is that … the tariff situation is being done to us by our government and by one mill, in Washington,” he said.
And that ultimately could mean layoffs throughout the industry, publishers say.
“The tariffs aren’t protecting American jobs,” said Brian Fantl, vice president of the Albuquerque Publishing Co., which publishes the Journal. “They’re putting American jobs at great risk.“