The fact Corner Brook Pulp and Paper seemed willing to endure the threat of costly American tariffs gives Mayor Jim Parsons confidence in the company’s long-term future in the city.
Parsons was reacting Thursday to news one day earlier that tariffs the United States government had been ready to impose on the Canadian newsprint industry will not be implemented.
The tariffs were believed to have likely cost Corner Brook Pulp and Paper around $30 million in business with its U.S. marketplace.
The company itself has not said much publicly about the tariffs issue and still had not responded to a request for an interview about the latest developments as of deadline Thursday.
The mayor said he appreciates all of the work done by the company, its employees, the newsprint industry and all levels of government to help convince the Americans to overturn the tariffs.
“Everyone handled this as we should have, with calm heads,” said Parsons.
Often, whenever there is a threat against the business operations of the paper mill, Parsons said the rumour mill churns out the naysayers who believe the closure of the plant is inevitably imminent. With the company seeking out more markets outside of the United States and taking measures to cut more of its operational costs, Parsons believes the mill is in a better position now than it was before the worry of the tariffs.
“Any time when there is adversity like this, it’s an opportunity to make changes and re-examine how to do things,” said the mayor. “You can do it one of two ways: you can do nothing and let things go bad or you can innovate and figure out better ways to do things. I think that’s what they did.”
Parsons said it does no good to baselessly insinuate the mill is doomed when it faces economic challenges. The concerns over the tariffs, or the impact if they had been implemented, could have been prolonged but Parsons firmly believes the mill would have done all it could to remain viable.
“I’ve got confidence Kruger is here for the long haul and all our businesses and citizens should too,” he said. “Don’t listen to the hype sometimes. Look at the facts and the way this was handled.”
What others are saying
Gudie Hutchings, the Liberal Commons member for Long Range Mountains, was travelling and unavailable for an interview about the tariffs being turned over. Her office provided the following emailed statement:
“The dropping of the American tariffs on Canadian newsprint is excellent news for our country, and especially for people right here in Corner Brook. Corner Brook Pulp and Paper is a major part of our economy in Newfoundland and Labrador, and these tariffs were putting at risk the livelihood of over 500 employees. Congratulations to all the advocates who worked hard to battle against these tariffs, especially the Kruger Inc. team. This is a great decision which is best for our forestry workers right here in the Long Range Mountains and throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.”