The Tampa Bay Times announced Wednesday that the company was laying off about 50 people, and a spokesman claimed that tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump are to blame, the Tampa Bay Business Journal reported.
"You have read about the new tariffs on imported aluminum and steel, and on products from China," CEO Paul Tash wrote last month. "Now, it seems our own business — newspaper printing and publishing — will take some casualties in a trade war over paper."
What's the story?
A paper company in Washington state, the North Pacific Paper Company, complained earlier this year that Canadian companies were able to sell their products at unfair prices by taking advantage of government subsidies, according to NBC News.
As a result, the Trump administration imposed a tariff on Canadian newsprint in January, which increased a few months later. The estimated impact of the tariff amounts to about $3 million per year in printing costs for a large metropolitan newspaper.
A spokeswoman for the Tampa Bay Times told the Tampa Bay Business Journal that the layoffs were a direct effect caused by the tariffs.
"These tariffs started with a single American newsprint manufacturer who complained that Canadian companies were 'dumping' their product in the U.S. at below-market prices," Tash wrote in March. "In the current political climate, that complaint found a friendly ear in Washington."
"Make no mistake: These tariffs will cause layoffs across American newspapers, including this one," Tash wrote.
The Tampa Bay Times had been struggling financially for years, last laying off employees in 2016. The size of its newsroom was cut in half between 2006 and 2015.
Paper manufacturer defends complaint
"While our company understands the concerns recently surfaced by some newspaper publishers, which also face a challenging marketplace, we strongly disagree with the notion that their industry requires low-priced, subsidized newsprint from Canada to sustain their own business model," North American Paper Company CEO Craig Annenberg said in a statement last week.
The International Trade Commission will review the tariffs, and give newspaper publishers the chance to make their case at a July 17 hearing. The ITC has the ability to reject the tariffs.
(H/T The Hill)