Nova Scotia

Port Hawkesbury Paper meets with U.S. officials in tariff probe

Port Hawkesbury Paper is meeting with United States Department of Commerce officials this week in an effort to reverse a ruling that imposed a 20.3 per cent tariff on one of its paper exports.

Provincial representatives also on site

Port Hawkesbury Paper is meeting with U.S. Department of Commerce officials this week over a tariff dispute. (Wendy Martin/CBC)

Port Hawkesbury Paper officials are hopeful a visit from American government representatives this week can reverse a ruling that imposed trade sanctions on its supercalendered paper products.

A spokeswoman from Premier Stephen McNeil's office confirmed Wednesday that Department of Commerce investigators are reviewing information submitted by the mill to refute a complaint that it is receiving industrial subsidies from the province.

The preliminary ruling resulted in the paper mill being forced to pay a 20.3 per cent interim tariff on supercalendered paper exported to the U.S. It's the type of high-quality glossy paper used in magazines. A final decision is due in December.

The investigators are meeting with Port Hawkesbury Paper and the province's intergovernmental affairs department. The premier is not scheduled to meet with them, spokeswoman Laurel Munroe said.

If commerce investigators reverse their decision, the tariff will be refunded to the mill.

Mill manager Marc Dube was not available for comment on Wednesday. Munroe said it is unlikely a major decision on the tariff dispute will come this week.

The U.S. investigation began in February and came after a complaint by an American industry group, the Coalition for Fair Paper Imports.

The Coalition for Fair Paper Imports started the complaint after the Nova Scotia government's 2012 rescue package for the mill in Port Hawkesbury — a package that included a $40-million provincial government loan.

The investigation also affected J.D. Irving Ltd.'s paper mill in New Brunswick and two Canadian operations.

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