"If Canadian imports of uncoated groundwood paper are subject to duties, prices in the whole newsprint market will be shocked and our supply chains will suffer", the letter said. Quebec's Resolute and Kruger face duties of 4.4 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, and all other producers in Canada face duties of 6.5 per cent.
"What the USA uncoated groundwood papers industry wants is a level playing field, and this decision is an important step forward", company CEO Craig Anneberg said after Ross made his announcement.
A number of Democratic and Republican U.S. Senators along with more than one thousand small to medium-sized U.S. newspaper publishers strongly opposed any duties on Canadian newsprint fearing that the duties would end up compromising American jobs.
The North Pacific Paper Company, or NORPAC, asked the U.S. Department of Commerce to investigate Canadian imports of "uncoated groundwood paper", the grade of paper widely used by newspapers and other commercial publishers.
Canada is the largest exporter of newsprint in the world, dominated by Resolute Forest Products, Kruger and Catalyst Paper Corp.
The preliminary countervailing duties against Canadian newsprint producers come as Canada and the United States remain deadlocked during talks to renegotiate the North American free-trade agreement and amid the prolonged fight over softwood lumber.
The company estimates the ruling will raise production costs by less than five cents per newspaper. "This decision will protect American jobs in Washington, Mississippi and Georgia, and may even serve to create jobs in the U.S.as idled paper machines restart", Norpac chief executive officer Craig Anneberg said in a statement Tuesday night.
However, Kursman said Norpac is referring to three states where Resolute operates paper mills.
The company was acquired in late 2016 by One Rock Capital Partners, a New York-based hedge fund.
Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister called the tariffs "unfair and unwarranted".
"Any duties will have a direct and negative impact on United States newspapers, especially those in small cities and towns, and result in job losses in the American printing sector", the ministers said in a statement.
Many newspapers don't print in their own facilities, so an increase in newsprint prices would also affect the printing industry, which sent a letter last month to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross urging him to reject a tariff on Canadian newsprint because it would further stress the financial viability of newspapers.
They explained that they will continue to work with the industry, and with Canada's provinces and territories, "to defend this vital sector against unfair and unwarranted U.S. trade measures and practices".
Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) described the duties as "completely unjustified and protectionist in nature".
"This is not really based on sound objective methods", said Neuheimer. "While we understand the concerns recently surfaced by some newspaper publishers, we strongly disagree with the notion that their industry requires low-cost, government-subsidized, imported newsprint from Canada to sustain its business model". "Maybe we are going to experience plant shutdowns for a few weeks".