Ohio Senate race: Brown, Renacci trade barbs on tariffs

Senate Republican candidate Jim Renacci said he backs President Donald Trump’s tough trade approach against China and U.S. allies in the European Union and Canada, saying “it’s going to be a little uncomfortable” economically “for a while, but I don’t think this president or anyone wants a trade war.”

During an interview Monday on Fox News, Renacci said he was glad to see the president is “doing what he’s doing. I think in the end this is part of negotiations. I think this is what this president does best. Let’s see where we end up.’’

“What he wants is to have fair trade with these countries and it’s just not right now,” said Renacci, a Republican congressman from Wadsworth.

Trade is expected to be among the major issues between Renacci and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. During his two decades in the Senate and House, Brown has opposed every major free-trade pact, including the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada.

Rachel Petri, a Brown spokeswoman, said “now that Congressman Renacci is running for Senate, he’s trying to fool voters by pretending he’s tough on trade.”

As a House member in 2011, Renacci urged President Barack Obama to push Congress to approve free-trade pacts with South Korea, Panama and Columbia.

Trump has said it would impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union. Canada struck back this weekend with tariffs on $12.6 billion worth of U.S. exports.

The administration said it will levy this week a 25 percent tariff on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports, prompting China to vow to match those tariffs on the same amount of U.S. exports.

The tariffs, however, have provoked sharp criticism from U.S. companies who warn they will lead to higher prices for consumer goods and a loss of jobs. In addition, Canada is Ohio’s largest trading partner.

Petri said “Renacci’s own record proves that he can’t be trusted to stand up for Ohio workers against China — voting against efforts to crack down on Chinese currency manipulation and supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership when the door was still open for China to join.”

The Trans-Pacific Partnership was a trade agreement negotiated by the Obama administration and it created a major free-trade zone among the United States and 11 other Pacific-rim countries.

China, however, was not part of the pact and Obama administration officials designed the free-trade agreement as a way for the U.S. to set trade rules in the Pacific instead of China.

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