Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown has proposed legislation to give the government broader powers aimed at cracking down on illegal Chinese trade practices.
Brown, who spoke for approximately 30 minutes during a media teleconference Wednesday, addressed a bill he introduced titled the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011 and which passed the Senate this week. The bill would create more oversight on Chinese manipulation of their currency in an attempt to lower their prices and inflate U.S prices.
“The Chinese are cheating,” Brown said. “This bill will create more oversight of currency exchange rates. We are just trying to create a level playing field.”
Brown said that passage of the bill could result in the creation in as many as 2.25 million U.S. manufacturing jobs.
“It’s time to put American jobs and workers first. We’ve lost millions of American jobs to China — including more than 100,000 Ohio jobs — due in no small part to that country’s illegal currency manipulation,” Brown said. “We cannot stand by and watch any longer as our factories close down and entire communities undergo total devastation.
“Rhetoric has done little to solve the problem, and Ohio manufacturers and workers have paid the price,” he said. “We must equip the Obama Administration with the tools it needs to crack down on China’s currency manipulation and help level the playing field for American businesses.”
Brown said the Chinese government has long practiced currency manipulation by intentionally devaluing its currency against the U.S. dollar to artificially inflate prices of U.S. goods imported to China and cheapening prices of Chinese goods going into the U.S.
Brown was joined on the call by Jeff Cottrell, owner of Screen Works Inc, an apparel and consumer goods manufacturer in Dayton.
“The trade deficit has prevented me from hiring and threatens my company’s expansion,” Cottrell said. “Although taking a stand against China entails some risks, the risks of inaction is greater. I believe we must pass the Currency Reform bill.”
Brown referred to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and the Alliance for American Manufacturing that attributed much of the growing trade deficit with China to the illegal currency manipulation. The report said that the trade deficit has cost the U.S. more than 2.8 million jobs, including 1.9 million manufacturing jobs.
Brown said the illegal currency manipulation has an especially costly effect in Ohio.
Ohio is the third-leading state of manufactured goods in the United States behind only Texas and California.
Brown said that in 2008, the Brunswick Co. owned by Randy and Bill Bennett was outbid by 20 percent by a Chinese business on a project in the U.S. to build a bridge because of the illegal practices.
“This practice is giving unfair subsidies to importing nations,” Brown said.
Brown said the bill has gathered bipartisan support in the Senate, where it was passed by a resounding 79-19 vote. The bill awaits vote by U.S. Congress and the president.