Brown, Portman boast support of new trade agreement

By: - January 9, 2020 12:30 am

Ohio U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, left, and Rob Portman, a Republican, right. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Ohio’s U.S. Senators gave their input on a new trade agreement approved by the Senate Finance Committee this week.

Both U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and Sen. Rob Portman spoke positively about the passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act (USMCA) by the committee on Tuesday.

Brown mentioned a provision he said he worked to include, along with Sen. Ron Wyden, of Oregon, which overhauls labor enforcement standards. According to Brown, the agreement allows workers in Mexico to report a violation of their rights by a company and seek punitive damages if workers are stopped from organizing.

“We know why corporations move jobs overseas — they can pay lower wages and exploit workers,” Brown said in a statement during the committee session. “The only way to stop that race to the bottom is by raising labor standards in every country we trade with.”

Brown called the measure an update to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but Portman called the USMCA a more modern, more preferable agreement to NAFTA, “in part because it includes new and enforceable environmental and labor standards, a new section on digital trade, expanded opportunities for agricultural trade, and new opportunities for auto jobs in America,” a statement from Portman’s office read.

Portman commented on the specific benefits to Ohioans in being able to compete in fields such as online sales, dairy farming and the auto industry.

“I’m pleased that our auto-workers around our state are going to have a more level playing field,” Portman said. “This is all critical and all why I think it’s so important that we do move forward with this agreement today.”

The agreement now moves on for a full Senate vote.

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow (KY) Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.