By Sherrod Brown
I have fought my whole career for fair trade that puts American workers first, and stood up to presidents of both parties on behalf of Ohioans. One of my proudest votes was against NAFTA.
It’s why last week I voted in favor of overturning the Biden Administration’s suspension of tariffs on Chinese solar product importers, to level the playing field for American manufacturers and workers, including solar manufacturers in Northwest Ohio.
Ohio workers, like the more than 2,000 workers at First Solar, are ready to lead the world in this growing industry – they just need a level playing field.
According to an independent Commerce Department investigation, leading Chinese solar-cell manufacturers are dodging U.S. tariffs by routing some of their operations through Southeast Asia and we cannot let them get away with it.
This has real consequences for Ohio and American leadership in one of the leading energy industries of the future. And we have seen how dangerous it is when we cede American leadership to other countries in key industries.
Telling the truth on trade hasn’t been popular in Washington, but Ohioans know what these policies have done to our state. Workers in Ohio and around the country have watched the people who were supposed to represent and stand up for them sell them out to corporations again and again.
In Ohio and all over America, companies moved production overseas in the name of “efficiency,” searching the globe for cheap labor.
First, they moved jobs to anti-union states in the South. Then corporations lobbied for tax breaks and bad trade deals to help move manufacturing jobs overseas – and Wall Street rewarded them for it.
Ohio invented the lightbulb, yet today, 99 percent of LED bulbs are made in China. America invented the semiconductor, yet today, 90 percent of them are made overseas. We cannot and will not make that mistake again with the technologies that will power our economy over the next century.
Many politicians claim to support manufacturing and innovation to better compete with China. It is why we passed the CHIPS Act, to bring semiconductor production back. It’s why we passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill that is rebuilding our roads and bridges, and the Inflation Reduction Act, to make sure that we lead the world in new, renewable energy technologies, like solar.
However, suspending these solar tariffs while allowing Chinese companies, often subsidized by the Chinese government, to skirt the rules and dump solar panels into the U.S. is antithetical to all the good work that we have accomplished.
American workers must know that we have their backs and they have proved that they can make these solar panels. Right now, Ohioans are manufacturing solar panels that can power our economy, they just need a level playing field.
This comes done to whose side you’re on. Do you stand with workers in Ohio, or do you stand with the Chinese Communist Party? Do you stand with the American solar industry, or do you stand with the Chinese solar industry?
It’s that simple, and it’s why I voted to stand with workers in Ohio and around the country.