Brown: U.S. Needs Long-Term Strategy to Reset Trade Imbalance with China

Senator Discusses Trade Work With Trump Administration ahead of Thursday Hearing With Top Trade Official, Pushes for WTO Reform, Bipartisan Legislation to Ensure Foreign Investments Don’t Hurt U.S. Economy, Jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a news conference call to discuss his efforts to improve trade policy for Ohio ahead of Thursday’s Senate Finance hearing featuring testimony from U.S. Trade Ambassador Bob Lighthizer. Brown is working closely with Lighthizer, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and the White House to renegotiate NAFTA and hold trade cheats accountable.  

“We’ve seen what we can achieve for Ohio businesses and Ohio workers when we actually enforce our trade rules,” said Brown. “Trade has never been a partisan issue for me. I have opposed Presidents of both parties when they were wrong for Ohio, and I have offered to work with President Trump from day one to deliver on his promises to Ohio workers.”

Earlier this month, President Trump answered Brown’s call to crack down on unfair steel imports that have hurt the U.S. steel sector. Brown says that while tariffs are one important tool to hold China accountable, the U.S. needs a long-term strategy to completely reset the U.S. trade imbalance with China.  Brown has called for reforming the WTO, and is pushing legislation with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to review foreign investments in the United States to ensure they are in the long-term economic interests of the U.S. Chinese investment in the United States tripled from 2015 to 2016 and jumped tenfold in the last five years.

“Tariffs are one important tool we have to fight back against trade cheats. But we know China is persistent when it comes to cheating the system. And because tariffs are temporary by nature, we have to be prepared for the fact that China will wait us out. To truly address the trade imbalance with China, we need a complete reset and a long-term strategy that incudes reforming the WTO and making sure foreign investments in the U.S. work for U.S. jobs,” Brown said.

Recent patterns of foreign investment in the U.S. have raised concerns that overseas competitors, including state-owned enterprises, are pursuing investments to make strategic gains in the U.S. market or to benefit their own domestic industries. No current mechanism allows the U.S. government to evaluate foreign investment for its long-term economic benefit to the U.S. Brown and Grassley’s bill would require a review of certain foreign investments to determine if they are in the economic interest of the U.S., not a foreign individual or foreign government.

Immediately after President Trump’s election, Brown reached out to his transition team to offer his help in retooling U.S. trade policy. Brown wrote to Trump in November 2016 offering specific steps to work together on trade and Trump responded with a handwritten note. Since then, Brown has been engaging the President and top trade officials, including U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to fight for Ohio priorities.

  • Last month, Brown convened roundtable discussions with Ohio stakeholders in Toledo, Lima and Dayton to discuss NAFTA and ways to improve trade deals for Ohio. Brown met with manufacturers, businesses, workers, and community leaders to take their ideas back to Washington as negotiations on NAFTA continue.