Sen. Brown backs Trump plan to raise steel tariffs on Canada, Mexico, EU

Republican Sen. Rob Portman says Canada and Mexico should have been exempted.

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown supports President Donald Trump’s decision Thursday to impose tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

Republican Sen. Rob Portman is against the plan.

Brown, D-Ohio, said he has “supported steel tariffs from the beginning, because China’s cheating has cost too many Ohio steelworkers their jobs.”

“I’m open to carving out allies who are not part of the problem, but steel overcapacity is a global problem that needs a global response,” Brown said.

Portman said Trump should have exempted Canada and Mexico from the new tariffs in part because both are trying to negotiate a revised North American Free Trade Agreement with the United States.

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“I favor continuing negotiations with the EU over steel, but understand the need to bring these discussions to conclusion to provide certainty for American steel workers and businesses,” Portman said. “I will continue to engage with the administration to work towards a more level playing field for steelworkers while minimizing the potential harm to downstream users.”

Trump, who campaigned in 2016 by contending unfair trade practices harm U.S. industries, imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

By doing so, Trump was hitting three markets where Ohio farmers and industries export billions of dollars in goods. If Canada, the EU, and Mexico retaliate with higher tariffs, they could harm Ohio farmers and manufacturers.

According to the state government of Ohio, the state last year exported $18.9 billion worth of goods to Canada and $6.5 billion to Mexico. Ohio companies and farmers also exported more than $5 billion worth of goods to Great Britain, Germany, France and The Netherlands, all of whom are members of the European Union.

One reason Ohio does so much business with Canada and Mexico is NAFTA integrated the North American automotive market, making it easier for automotive companies in Canada, Mexico and the United States to ship cars, trucks and parts across borders.

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