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Republican Sen. Portman Parts with Trump on Canadian Tariffs

photo of Rob Portman
Portman says controlling Chinese steel exports -- including those that travel through third countries -- should be the priority.

Ohio’s Sen. Rob Portman, who was the U.S. trade representative for the George W. Bush administration, is expressing concern over the steel and aluminum tariffs President Trump plans to impose on Canada

Portman says he supports tariffs targeted by country and industry that, for example, address the dumping of Chinese steel at below-market prices. But he does not think Canada should be among those targets. The Ohio Republican notes Canada is the U.S.’s largest trading partner and predicts American consumers will feel the impact of the tariffs beyond just increases in the cost of products made from steel.

“If you start a trade war, it escalates. So we’ll put some tariffs on them they’ll put some tariffs on us. And you have not just more expensive steel, but you have jobs in the United States that are threatened because there’s no longer the market out there for our products that we’re exporting.” :18

Portman says Canada does have some protectionist policies, including those that hurt U.S. dairy exports, which he’d like to see addressed in NAFTA negotiations.

M.L. Schultze is a freelance journalist. She spent 25 years at The Repository in Canton where she was managing editor for nearly a decade, then served as WKSU's news director and digital editor until her retirement.