Ireland’s government is seeking to make it easier for the country’s paper manufacturers to switch to cheaper Chinese-made paper for their books, magazines and newspapers, with plans to raise the minimum price of the paper by around 30pc in a bid to boost the economy and jobs.
The move is being welcomed by the countrys top trade unionists as a step in the right direction.
“I believe that this is the right thing to do, that it will create a lot of jobs and boost Ireland’s competitiveness,” said Paul Murphy, president of the Irish Newspaper and Publishing Association (INPA).
“I am very confident that if this bill passes we will see a lot more paper going to China.”
The Irish government is considering legislation that would allow the paper industries to switch from China to cheaper Asian-made papers.
But Mr Murphy said the plan was a “step in the wrong direction”.
The legislation is expected to be introduced in the coming weeks.
The Irish Independent understands that the government is also considering a package of changes to the way that newspapers are produced, and how the paper is delivered.
The government says it is not a tax increase, but the move will create an extra $10bn in tax revenue, which will be used to create jobs and support Ireland’s economy.
Under the legislation, a paper manufacturer would have to pay an extra fee for each copy sold.
The new fee would be imposed at a rate of 30pc.
The fee would also be applied to all paper in the paper manufacturing sector, and the Irish paper industry as a whole.
The legislation, if passed, will also apply to the distribution of paper.
Under current rules, a company that sells newspapers in Ireland must pay a tax of 10pc of sales, with an additional levy of 5pc for every copy sold through its website or other online outlets.
The Fine Gael party has been among the strongest opponents of the legislation.
It said the measure would allow companies to “self-regulate” to avoid paying the tax.
“It is an attack on the paper, on the livelihoods of millions of people across Ireland, and it is an assault on the integrity of the free market,” said Irish Independent columnist Brian Walsh.
There will be many more debates and decisions about the future of the industry, but in the meantime, the industry will continue to be driven by profit, and will not be allowed to prosper.”