Brown touts fair trade policies

Says he nixed Biden’s deal to protect workers

WARREN — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said he killed President Joe Biden’s signature trade initiative with 13 Indo-Pacific nations because it didn’t have any enforceable protections for American workers and was negotiated behind closed doors.

“I told the administration this is a nonstarter,” Brown, D-Cleveland, said Wednesday during a stop at the United Steelworkers Local 1375 hall in Warren.

After objections from Democratic senators, led by Brown, to the Indo-Pacific trade agreement, Biden, a fellow Democrat, canceled the effort.

“They decided not to move on this proposal,” he said.

Brown said he has fought “against bad deal after bad deal, negotiated by presidents of both parties, on behalf of Ohio workers.”

He added: “My values have always been clear: no trade deals, period. No trade deals without strong, enforceable labor standards — standards that do in fact guarantee Ohio workers a level playing field. That’s why I stood up to the trade pillar in the Indo-Pacific Economic Partnership Framework that the administration was negotiating with a group of countries in the Pacific region.”

The proposal had “no real labor standards and nothing in enforcement and negotiated behind closed doors,” Brown said.

Brown said he wants “to engage” in further trade with these nations — Australia, Brunel, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore — but “I want workers at the table.”

Regarding future trade agreements, Brown said the Biden administration won’t be “pushing anything else. We’ll make sure of that unless the workers are at the table. I have no problems supporting a trade agreement if workers are at the table and represented.”

Brown said he wants to pass two bills — Fight Trade Cheats Act and Leveling the Playing Field 2.0 Act — to strengthen trade enforcement and stop cheating by foreign nations and companies.

Brown acknowledged Wednesday that getting approval of such sweeping legislation is “often a long game.”

But, he said, “regardless of how long it takes, I stay involved. We’re going to make it happen and we don’t give up easily.”

The Fighting Trade Cheats Act would strengthen U.S. trade law enforcement and give American manufacturers the opportunity to take action against those that engage in customs fraud. The bill specifically aims at companies that dump foreign-made goods into the United States.

The Level the Playing Field 2.0 Act, updates the initial bill Brown sponsored and was approved in 2015, to strengthen U.S. trade remedy laws and ensure they remain effective tools to fight back against unfair trade practices and protect American workers.

Guy Coviello, president and CEO of the Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber, who attended Brown’s Wednesday event at the union hall, said he supports both bills because they “would protect the Valley’s industrial base and allow us to more fully grow our economy.”

Donnie Blatt, USW District 1 director, said the proposals “would make it possible to put domestic steel production on a level playing field while ensuring steelworkers have good-paying jobs in local economies.”


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