Fortunately for local manufacturers, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan is not going to be deterred by the murky estimates on how many, if any, American jobs are lost due to Chinese currency manipulation.
Last month the U.S. House passed a bill co-sponsored by Ryan, D-Niles, restoring the federal government's ability to apply countervailing duty law to non-market economies such as China. The bill overturns a federal court ruling.
Now Ryan has his sights set on a currency manipulation bill passed last year in the Senate but yet to receive a vote in the House. By intentionally devaluing its currency against the dollar, China gives its exports sold in the U.S. an unfair advantage, according to Ryan and several Mahoning Valley manufacturers.
Ryan uses research done by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., that Ohio has lost 100,000 jobs due to unfair Chinese trade practices. The Economic Policy Institute is a liberal think tank. The more conservative Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal have a different take.
The Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal say even if the trade practices are altered to the U.S.'s advantage, the goods would simply be produced in another low-cost labor market rather than the U.S. They also claim that low-priced Chinese imports actually boost the American economy by reducing costs and that more imports are a reflection of American demand, which itself is a sign of economic health.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is the Alliance for American Manufacturing, which says Ohio is about to lose 190,000 more jobs because of ''China's cheating.'' Its executive director, Scott Paul, wrote in the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, ''We've seen imports of Chinese auto parts surge by 25 percent in each of the past two years. We've seen our trade deficit in auto parts with China grow nearly 900 percent in just 10 years. Yet no other major auto-producing nation - Germany, Japan, South Korea - has such a trade imbalance; in fact, they export more to China than they import.''
Ultimately, the impact China's trade practices have on Ohio jobs is an elusive statistic to ascertain. But it's serious business for Ohio, especially the industrial sector in the Warren-Youngstown area. Which is why Ryan's dogged determination and the bipartisan support he receives from U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, are so important. Brown and Portman voted for legislation designed to prevent China's currency manipulation.
Their vows to keep plugging away are important.