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Province encouraged by Port Hawkesbury Paper NAFTA ruling

This file photo shows the Port Hawkesbury Paper mill in Point Tupper in operation.
This file photo shows the Port Hawkesbury Paper mill in Point Tupper in operation.

POINT TUPPER, N.S. — The provincial minister responsible for trade says he is encouraged by a ruling in favour of Port Hawkesbury Paper in its ongoing fight against countervailing duties on its paper exports.

The province released a news release Tuesday responding to a five-person North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) panel ruling last week directing the U.S. Department of Commerce to reconsider issues on which the department based imposing border duties, including the electricity rate paid by the mill.

“We're pleased with this preliminary decision," Michel Samson, Minister of Trade, said in the release. "We're supportive of Port Hawkesbury Paper and will continue to work with our partners on this important issue."

The mill is located in Samson’s riding.

The panel's decision is the latest step in the NAFTA appeal process. The Department of Commerce must now reconsider its initial findings and respond to the NAFTA decision by this summer.

The five-person panel was comprised of two officials from the U.S. and two from Canada.

The trade action came as the result of a petition filed by two American producers of supercalendered paper that say the Canadian paper goods are unfairly subsidized. In the case of Port Hawkesbury Paper, at issue was the aid package it received in 2012 valued at about $124.5 million from the province to reopen the mill after a year-long sales process, as well as a special electricity rate that it receives.

In October 2015, the Department of Commerce said it has determined that U.S. imports of supercalendered paper from Canada have received countervailable subsidies. It imposed a 20.18 per cent duty on Port Hawkesbury Paper. While the tariff has been applied, it is being held in trust, pending the outcome of the appeal. To date, it amounts to about $50 million.


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