By Sen. Sherrod Brown
We know Ohio workers and Ohio manufacturers can compete with anyone. We have skilled, productive workers and world-class infrastructure. But for years, we’ve seen evidence of unfair trade practices – like currency manipulation – costing Americans jobs.
Currency manipulation occurs when a country undervalues its currency to effectively subsidize its exports. This allows countries—like China—to sell their exports for cheaper, which is why so many low-cost goods are “Made in China.” And when countries like China don’t play by the rules, it drives American companies out-of-business and harms our economy. The price of U.S. made goods is artificially inflated and as a result cheap imports flood our markets. Ultimately, currency manipulation isn’t just cheating, it costs Americans jobs.
In a new report, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) argues that eliminating currency manipulation can reduce our trade deficit and create jobs in Ohio. Specifically, by cutting down on cheating, the U.S. goods trade deficit could be reduce by up to $400 billion – over the course of a few years. The report also found that eliminating global currency manipulation in three years could reduce Ohio’s unemployment rate by up to 2.7 percentage points, increase Ohio GDP by between $8 billion and $17 billion, and create up to 75,900 Ohio manufacturing jobs.
That’s why I plan to re-introduce currency legislation this year. In 2011, my bipartisan legislation, the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act, passed the Senate, but never got a vote in the House. By treating currency manipulation as an unfair subsidy and an illegal trade practice and providing our government with the tools to impose duties on these products flooding our markets, this bill seeks to stop Chinese currency manipulation to ensure a fair and level playing field for American manufacturers. It is my hope that the new EPI report reminds officials why it is important for us to act now.
Ohio jobs can be created when trade laws are enforced. But we need to ensure our trade partners uphold the same labor, environmental, and human rights standards that we do. This means that Ohio workers – be they employees at auto companies or small manufacturers – have a chance to compete on a level playing field.
Workers and manufacturers have endured years of talking and no action. Now, it’s time that the House stands up to the Chinese, and helps fight the war waged on American manufacturing.
Sherrod Brown is a United States Senator from Ohio.