Wednesday’s news that Corner Brook Pulp and Paper is being hit with a second tariff by the United States government left Corner Brook Mayor Jim Parsons with a dreadful feeling.
The 22.16 per cent anti-dumping duty on uncoated groundwood paper products, including newsprint, is on top of a 9.93 per cent countervailing duty imposed on the mill in January.
Together the tariffs will mean an estimated $30-million annual cost to the mill and parent company Kruger Inc.
Kruger has said it never participated in dumping of newsprint products.
Parsons said Thursday that Kruger wasn’t part of the three-company study group the U.S. looked at in deciding on the new tariff.
“And then they decided to paint everyone with the same brush,” he said.
“It seems clear to me that we’re just a pawn in a bigger game here and I think that the Trump White House is just playing games and it’s affecting our economy here.”
Parsons said the mill is taking measures to cover the first tariff. Last week it announced a restructuring of 12 unionized positions that a company official said was part of the plan to reduce costs due to the countervailing duty.
“It’s not throwing in the towel by any stretch,” said Parsons.
But he doesn’t think anyone anticipated a 32 per cent tariff overall and now it’s about waiting to see how the mill can cope with the additional tariff.
He said there are a lot of factors at play, including whether the tariff will stand up in the long run or be overturned when it goes to a World Trade Organization challenge.
He said the investigation on the first tariff is ongoing and people from the U.S. Department of Commerce have been in the province and the provincial government has been aiding in the investigation and trying to make the case that it is an unfair tariff.
“Our only hope is if the prime minister and the federal government does start to really challenge the U.S. on this,” said Parsons.
“Let’s see where it goes, but it is a real kick in the gut.”