When I travel across Ohio, I hear from business owners who have successfully expanded their companies, created jobs, and sold their products in foreign markets. In 2013, Ohio exports totaled a record-breaking $50.8 billion. To quantify that, every $1 billion in exports supports nearly 5,000 domestic jobs. And in Ohio, more than one quarter of our state’s manufacturing jobs rely on exports.
Last week, I joined United States Trade Representative Michael Froman in a visit to Jet, Incorporated; a small business in Cleveland that is creating jobs by designing, manufacturing, and exporting innovative wastewater treatment systems to 33 countries all over the world. Exports comprise more than 20 percent of Jet’s sales and, in 2012, the company received the President’s “E” Award for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports. Companies like Jet, Inc. are the reason that U.S. exports reached $2.3 trillion in 2013, a new record for a fourth straight year.
Last month, Congress agreed on a short-term reauthorization for the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank). This important entity, which offers loans, guarantees, and insurance for American businesses seeking to export their products, will now be funded through June 30, 2015. While I’m relieved funding did not lapse for the Ex-Im Bank, I am worried that this short-term reauthorization will create uncertainty for Ohio businesses who are looking to sell goods overseas. Our foreign competitors in Europe and Asia know that their versions of Ex-Im Bank will be there for them. We need to provide our businesses with the same certainty. That’s why I plan to work with my Senate colleagues on a long-term solution for the Ex-Im Bank when Congress reconvenes.
In addition to boosting American exports, we need to address unfair foreign imports made in countries that violate international trade law. When countries undervalue their currency or flood the market with underpriced goods, it is Ohio workers and suppliers who pay the price.
In July, I went before the International Trade Commission (ITC) on behalf of Ohio’s steel tube workers and businesses, testifying that the influx of cheap foreign Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG) hurt the competiveness of Ohio manufacturers and threatened the jobs of their workers. Because foreign countries were pricing their OCTG below market value, an unfair and illegal trade practice, American companies were being shut out. In August, the ITC ruled that six countries had illegally “dumped” their goods in the U.S. market and levied trade tariffs against the offending countries.
Supporting Ohio’s workers and suppliers requires a commitment to trade enforcement and export strategies. Trade enforcement means ensuring a level playing field for Ohio manufacturers by defending them from unfair trade practices, and supporting export strategies means creating and maintaining jobs for manufacturing communities across the state and nation. By supporting the Ex-Im Bank and enforcing our nation’s trade laws, we can help Ohio businesses explore new markets and new opportunities.