THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE
June 05, 2018 09:38 PM
Updated June 05, 2018 07:38 PM
Tariffs like those the Trump administration is imposing on imports invite trade wars — in this case, foolishly, with U.S. allies and neighbors. Thursday's rollout of new tariffs on steel and aluminum from the European Union, Canada and Mexico have us baffled. One reason: Friday's federal employment report, reflecting strong May hiring and unemployment at an 18-year low of 3.8 percent, speaks to a growing economy that tariffs threaten to undermine.
We have a long record of supporting free markets and opposing trade barriers. Open competition enables a dynamic economy that creates jobs and prosperity; government intrusion, by contrast, rarely leads to efficiency. So a federal tariff with repercussions close to home is especially vexing.
Trump's Commerce Department has picked a trade fight with Canada over that country's newsprint exports to the United States. That means higher costs to American newspapers. Fortunately, some members of the U.S. Senate want to end this needless confrontation. If you care about the future of newspapers — as we obviously do — we hope you'll look at the facts and support efforts to resolve the mess. In this particularly odd case, the Commerce Department is helping one U.S. manufacturing firm at great cost to an entire national industry.
Commerce Department has added anti-dumping duties of up to 32 percent on newsprint and some other paper products from Canada. The agency says these products benefit from unfair Canadian government subsidies. U.S. publishers retort that Commerce is misreading the state of the newsprint industry and using government power to benefit a single paper mill owner in Washington state. That one mill owner, North Pacific Paper, had asked Commerce to punish the imports from Canada. No other U.S. newsprint mills supported North Pacific's claim, according to the News Media Alliance, an industry group.