NEWSPRINT WOES HIT NEW MEX­ICO

Tar­iff threats hit lo­cal pa­pers with ris­ing costs, limited sup­plies

Albuquerque Journal - - BUSINESS - BY ELLEN MARKS AS­SIS­TANT BUSI­NESS EDI­TOR

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.“

JIM THOMP­SON/JOUR­NAL

New Mex­ico news­pa­pers are brac­ing for more ris­ing costs in their sup­ply of newsprint be­cause of pro­posed U.S. tar­iffs. Shown here is a roll of pa­per used to print the Al­bu­querque Jour­nal.

Two pro­posed tar­iffs, one an­nounced in Jan­uary and another in March, threaten to add a to­tal of 32 per­cent to the price of some newsprint.

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