We all know trade matters for Ohioans, and for manufacturers and middle-class workers throughout the country. That’s because when we increase our exports, manufacturers can increase their bottom line. But, our growing trade deficit keeps our domestic companies on the defensive.
In fact, last week, new U.S.-China trade deficit figures from April revealed a 34 percent increase since March.
Ohio workers and businesses can compete with anyone in the world, but when countries manipulate their currency – to give their exports an unfair price advantage over American-made products – that’s not competing; it’s cheating.
The numbers speak for themselves. In 2011, an Economic Policy Institute report estimated that our trade deficit with China, exacerbated by Chinese currency manipulation, has caused the loss of more than 2.8 million American jobs since 2001 – including more than 1.9 million manufacturing jobs. And Ohio alone has lost more than 100,000 of these manufacturing jobs as a result of the Chinese trade deficit.
This is unacceptable. Our state has skilled, productive workers and world class infrastructure. But when a country like China purposefully manipulates its currency to make its exports cheaper, our manufacturers don’t even get the chance to compete.
Currency manipulation – the act of intervening in currency markets to undervalue its currency to effectively subsidize its exports – drives American companies out-of-business, costs Ohio jobs, and undermines our economy.
But China is not the only country cheating at trade. The Top 20 list of currency manipulators named in a recent report includes China, plus three potential Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade partners – Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Ohio jobs can be created—not taken away—when trade laws are enforced. In fact, a recent report found that addressing currency manipulation could create more than 2 million jobs – including between about 95,000 and 200,000 in Ohio alone. But legislation is needed to use trade laws to combat currency manipulation.
That’s why last week, along with Senator Sessions (R-AL) and a strong bipartisan group of our colleagues, I re-introduced a jobs bill to treat currency manipulation as the illegal trade subsidy it is. The Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2013 establishes new criteria for the Treasury Department to identify countries misaligning currency – and trigger tougher consequences for those who engage in such unfair trade practices.
The bill would also allow for industries harmed by currency manipulation to seek relief, the way they do for other export subsidies, which several industries in Ohio have sought – such as steel pipe producers in Lorain and Youngstown. And our bipartisan bill has no cost to taxpayers.
The Senate came together in 2011 to address this problem—to stand up for Ohio businesses and manufacturers, and to help spur our economic recovery. And, again, I plan to work with my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to pass this legislation. By addressing currency manipulation and other unfair trade practices, we can create American jobs and position ourselves to meet the challenges and opportunities of globalization.