Sen. Sherrod Brown ‘Hopeful’ on Trump’s Handling of Trade Dispute with China

By Melanie Arter | December 3, 2018 | 4:49 PM EST

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) (Screenshot)

( - Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told CNN’s “State of the Union with Jake Tapper” that he’s “hopeful” about President Donald Trump’s handling of the trade dispute with China.

Tapper noted that Trump is stepping back from his threat of a trade war with China after he and Chinese President Xi Jinping worked out a preliminary deal in which Trump agreed not to raise tariffs on Chinese products next month in exchange for China agreeing to buy more U.S. goods.


“The White House also said that the U.S. and China have set a 90-day countdown clock for broader negotiations over intellectual property rules, cyber-security issues. You sent a letter to President Trump urging him to stay aggressive on trade with China, and not just to agree to any deal for the sake of an agreement. Do you think the deal, as it is shaping up right now, is good?” Tapper asked.

“I can't tell. I think it's important to step back and understand why all of this with China. And that is that half the world's steel capacity is in China, half the world's aluminum smelting capacity is in China. They have -- they have had a history, decades, of cheating on trade rules,” Brown said.

“So, the whole point of tariffs is that tariffs are a temporary tool to reach a negotiation and to make change with Chinese-U.S. relationships, and what we're doing with trade policy. I'm hopeful. It's not clear to me yet that the president's done this right, but I'm hopeful from the early stages of this,” he said.


Brown said he doesn’t support the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) as it is currently written.

“The U.S., Mexico and Canada signed a replacement deal for NAFTA called the USMCA in Argentina on Friday. The plan still needs to pass the Senate. Now, I understand you want some tweaks, but President Trump says, he's ending NAFTA, it's this deal or nothing. If this agreement as it's currently written came to the floor of the Senate, would you support it?” Tapper asked.

“No, the president's threats to pull out of NAFTA don't take away from the importance of getting this job done. I mean, I voted against -- one of the first votes I ever cast in Congress was against NAFTA, and I have seen the devastation it's brought to the Industrial Midwest. I have seen what it's done to workers,” Brown said.

“And you start off here by respecting the dignity of work and understanding the most important thing is to stop the outsourcing of jobs to Mexico. GM just announced this summer another plant in Mexico,” he said. “So we have got to do this right.

“The president's threats are not particularly helpful, not surprisingly, but we need stronger labor enforcement standards there. These rules so far, the USMCA, don't get us where we need to get to stop the outsourcing of jobs, to respect the dignity of work, to protect American workers, whether it's the Lordstown plant in Ohio or the Hamtramck GM plant, or other companies that find it's profitable for them to outsource jobs,” Brown said.

“We know, in the president's new tax law, there are provisions to encourage the outsourcing of jobs by giving companies that move overseas, shutting down in Ohio, moving overseas, they get a 50-percent-off coupon on their taxes,” the senator added.


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