U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rep. Tim Ryan (OH-17) visited Wheatland Tube in Warren today to meet with workers and release a new report outlining the importance of trade law enforcement to steel and manufacturing jobs in the Mahoning Valley and across Northeast Ohio.
Brown and Ryan also renewed their call to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner to schedule a vote in the House of Representatives on Brown's Senate-passed, bipartisan Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act, which would punish China when it cheats trade laws by manipulating its currency. The legislation, which could create 2 million American jobs at no cost to taxpayers, cleared the Senate in October 2011 by a wide bipartisan margin, but has languished in the House since then. Nearly 260 current House members--including 80 Republicans--voted for a similar version of the bill in 2010. Dave McCall, United Steelworkers District 1 Director, also joined Brown and Ryan at Wheatland Tube.
"From steel to auto parts, the evidence is clear: when industry and the government get tough on trade and enforce existing laws, our workers and businesses win. That's because trade enforcement is critical to our global competitiveness," Brown said. "The manufacturing industry in the Mahoning Valley and across Ohio is bouncing back, but challenges remain--and that's why we can't turn a blind eye to trade partners that cheat. Our workers and business can compete with anyone when we enforce trade law, and that includes addressing China's currency manipulation.
"Legislation is necessary to fight back against China's unfair currency manipulation, and it has enjoyed broad bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate--but the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act has languished in the U.S. House for months. Our workers and businesses can't wait any longer for action," Brown added.
"Our area has directly benefitted from taking a strong stand against China - the construction jobs at V&M Star, the 350 permanent jobs that will be there, the 30 new jobs at Wheatland Tube, not to mention the spin-off jobs that will be created. I am grateful to Senator Brown for his strong leadership on these issues and we will continue to fight the Chinese market distortion at every turn," said Rep. Ryan.
"We know that when our manufacturing sector is thriving, our economy is strong. We should be doing everything we can to ensure the growth of the manufacturing jobs, and to keep the United States competitive in the global market. That includes supporting innovation in manufacturing, and holding countries like China accountable so that they don't hold an unfair advantage through currency manipulation and trade subsidies," Rep. Ryan continued.
In December 2009 and September 2010, Brown and Ryan testified before the International Trade Commission (ITC) on behalf of Ohio steel workers, including those at Wheatland Tube in Warren, U.S. Steel in Lorain, and V&M STAR in Youngstown. The ITC's ruling in the December 2009 case led to a border measure on imports to support these domestic producers of steel pipe. By addressing illegal Chinese trade practices, this decision helped increase demand for domestic production. It also played a critical role in V&M Star's decision to build a new, $650 million seamless pipe mill in Youngstown, bringing an estimated 350 regional jobs along with it. Other steel companies in Northeast Ohio have expanded in recent years, including Wheatland Tube, TMK IPSCO, and U.S. Steel.
Pressure is building in Ohio for action on China's currency manipulation, with Ohio House Minority Leader Armond Budish and Assistant Minority Leader Matt Szollosi recently sending a letter--signed by members of the Ohio House of Representatives--to Speaker Boehner urging congressional action on the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act. The letter follows a bipartisan, unanimously-passed Ohio House resolution urging President Obama and Congress to cite China as a currency manipulator. New figures were released last month showing the U.S. trade deficit growing to $42 billion in July, up 0.2 percent from June. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, the trade deficit with China grew to $29.4 billion, an increase of 7.2 percent; imports from China rose 5.6 percent.
According to a recent report released by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the trade deficit with China cost Ohio 95,500 jobs between 2001 and 2011. As a whole, the U.S. lost more than 2.7 million jobs as a result of the U.S.-China trade deficit, of which 2.1 million--more than 75 percent--were in manufacturing. These lost manufacturing jobs account for more than half of all U.S. manufacturing jobs lost or displaced between 2001 and 2011, according to the report. In June 2011, EPI released a report showing that addressing Chinese currency manipulation could support the creation of 2.25 million American jobs.