U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown talks tariffs at Vallourec Star


By Jordyn Grzelewski

jgrzelewski@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Cleveland Democrat, heard from a local company Tuesday about how it could be impacted by steel tariffs implemented by the Trump administration.

Brown toured Vallourec Star, a steel pipe mill located on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and talked with workers and Vallourec Star President Judson Wallace about the 25 percent steel tariffs against China and U.S. allies Mexico, Canada and the European Union.

Brown is a proponent of the tariffs against China, and recently blocked on amendment on the Senate floor that would have ended them.

“China’s cheating has shuttered steel plants across our state, put Ohioans out of work, and distorted global markets. These tariffs are an important step toward enforcing trade laws and making clear the U.S. will not allow China to cheat Americans out of their jobs,” Brown said in a statement. “We have more work to do to address the root of China’s cheating and reset our trade imbalance, and I will continue working with the Administration to push for long-term solutions.”

Brown and Wallace agreed, however, that a one-size-fits-all approach is not effective, and some recalibration might be needed.

“Tariffs are not a long-term trade policy. They are a tool we use when other countries cheat,” Brown said.

He said he spoke with President Trump Saturday and “emphasized that I support the tariffs, that I want to see the tariffs focused on serial cheaters – especially China, South Korea and Turkey, that continue to cheat.”

“The importance for Vallourec and other steel companies in the United States is that these tariffs be used right, that they be directly aimed at those countries that are cheating,” he said.

Wallace said the tariffs both help and hurt Vallourec.

“We’re on both sides of the issue,” he said. “We sell most of the pipe we manufacture here in the U.S., but there are some things we can’t manufacture, that we don’t have the capability, and for that we have to import from other sister companies around the world.”

Vallourec is a multinational company headquartered in France. The Youngstown plant produces steel products for the oil and gas industry.

Brown does not believe U.S. allies such as the E.U. should be targeted, and said he is particularly concerned about how such trade policies could impact exporters such as U.S. soybean farmers.

“You need to work with allies, so you can work with one united front,” he said. “I’m not sure that’s what happened here. The president needs to recalibrate in a way that works so we’re not seeing jobs gained in the steel industry here and jobs lost somewhere else.”

Tariffs are “a trade tool, a trade remedy, not a long-term policy, and make allowances for those companies in Ohio, western Pennsylvania and around the country so they don’t get hurt by this,” he said.

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