LIMA — Ohio state Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima) joined President Donald Trump at the White House Wednesday as the president signed the phase-one trade deal, which Huffman declared a “strong move forward” for western Ohio workers and farmers.
“This agreement promotes job growth here at home, creates a fair playing field for Ohio’s workers and innovators and leads the way to a stronger economic future for all Americans,” Huffman said.
Through the deal, China has agreed to import an additional $200 billion of U.S. goods over the next two years, including $80 billion in soybeans, grain, meat, ethanol and other agricultural products, as well as $251 billion in manufactured goods.
The deal is also said to lower trade barriers on agricultural exports. But it is not immediately clear how the agreement will affect farmers and industry in northwest Ohio.
China was Ohio’s third largest export market in 2018, behind Canada and Mexico. The state exported $3.6 billion in goods to China that year, a decrease of 5%, according to an Ohio Development Services Agency report last July.
The phase-one deal has received mixed reactions. The Ohio Republican Party praised Trump’s leadership in signing the deal, noting China’s promise to purchase additional U.S. goods.
Likewise, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said the deal is “a good first step toward bringing equity, durability and balance to the economic relationship between the world’s two largest economies.”
But Democrats panned the deal as vague and unenforceable. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who has criticized previous trade deals for costing American jobs, called the latest agreement “another betrayal to American workers.”
“For decades I’ve watched this corporate business model where companies shut down in (Ohio) and move overseas, set up production in (China) and then send their products back,” Brown said. “This agreement does nothing to change this business model.”
Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.