YOUNGSTOWN, OH – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Representative Tim Ryan (OH-17) visited Industrial Machining & Design Services, Inc. (IMDS) in Youngstown today to discuss how strong enforcement of trade laws can help protect Ohio manufacturing jobs.
“Ohio manufacturers and workers can compete with anyone. But when our trading partners like China unfairly stack the deck by manipulating currency and flooding our shores with artificially low-priced imports, that’s not competing—it’s cheating,” Brown said. “Too many Ohio manufacturers like IMDS have been forced to adapt their business model in response to disastrous trade agreements. If we’re going to rebuild our state’s manufacturing base, we need to enforce trade law and crack down on some of the most egregious trade barriers, like currency manipulation.”
“We’ve been asking China to stop manipulating its currency for many years and we’ve received only token gestures in response," stated Ryan. "Meanwhile, American manufacturers are forced to compete with unfairly subsidized Chinese products. My legislation, the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, passed the House of Representatives last week by a bipartisan vote of 348-79—a crucial step toward reigning in currency violators and creating a level playing field for U.S. industry. I appreciate Sherrod Brown’s leadership and willingness to spearhead the issue in the Senate, so the President can sign it into law.”
IMDS designs, engineers and builds mechanical and electrical assemblies to commercial and military specifications. Founded in 1991, IMDS is a veteran- and minority-owned company that is HUBZone-certified by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Prior to passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), IMDS was a commercial industrial machining shop that produced component parts for Tier I auto suppliers. After IMDS was shut out of the market due to unfair practices by the United States’ trading partners, the company transitioned into defense manufacturing. The company is seeking to enter the commercial clean energy industry, but is concerned about foreign competition and China’s practice of manipulating its currency and subsidizing its clean energy industry.
Brown and Ryan outlined efforts to ensure that American manufacturers can compete globally. Ryan discussed legislation he championed—passed last week by the U.S. House of Representatives—that would protect Ohio manufacturers from unlawful trade practices, including currency manipulation. The legislation directs the U.S. Department of Commerce to treat currency undervaluation as a prohibited export subsidy, which would open the door for the U.S. government to respond by imposing import duties. Brown is a sponsor of similar legislation in the Senate and has called for the bill’s passage when the Senate returns next month.
Brown is considered one of Congress’ leading voices on trade issues and has repeatedly urged the administration to act on the devaluation of Chinese currency. This week, as part of an effort to promote energy independence and the U.S. manufacture of clean energy technology, Brown sent a letter to President Obama urging the administration to act upon China’s unfair trade practices that were identified in a recent petition delivered by the U.S. Steelworkers to the United States Trade Representative.
He has also testified several times before the U.S. International Trade Commission on behalf of Ohio workers—including those in Youngstown—on whether unfairly-subsidized imports have negatively impacted Ohio businesses.
Brown introduced the Trade Enforcement Priorities Act and the Reciprocal Market Access Act of 2009 to empower the United States Trade Representative—the president's primary trade negotiator—to ensure meaningful market access for U.S. products before lowering U.S. tariffs.
The Trade Enforcement Priorities Act would reinstate “Super 301” authority, which lapsed under the Bush Administration. The mechanism would allow the U.S. Trade Representative to crack down on some of the most egregious trade barriers, like currency manipulation.
Sections 301-310 of the Trade Act of 1974 address trade barriers that violate U.S. rights under a trade agreement or represent discriminatory practices that undermine U.S. Commerce. Section 310 of the act, also known as “Super 301,” requires the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to examine and report on the most egregious trade barriers that adversely affect American exports. If the USTR identifies a measure as a “priority foreign country practice,” it is required to initiate a full Section 301 investigation. Super 301 is intended to promote U.S. exports and to signal to our trading partners that certain actions which adversely affect U.S. commerce will warrant immediate action.