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U.S.-China Trade Deal Draws Mixed Reactions From Ohio Leaders

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Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio is blasting the White House's trade deal with China, calling it "much ado about nothing." Republican U.S. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio calls the deal a "good first step." Ohio Public Radio's Andy Chow reports.

Brown has been a vocal opponent to Chinese trade practices and has been wanting the U.S. to get tough. But he says President Donald Trump's deal falls short of the problems that forced the U.S. into a trade war to begin with. He criticizes the "Phase One" agreement saying it does not prioritize workers.

"It looks to be, corporate trade agreement written for corporate interests in secret where corporate executives and corporate stockholders will benefit," says Brown.

The deal, in part, is meant to crack down on intellectual theft and overly burdensome regulations on U.S. exports.

But Brown says it doesn't do enough to hinder the practice of corporations moving U.S. companies to China.

"I think the Chinese understand that the president is at his weakest  in negotiations in an election year. So I assume the Chinese will want to come back to the table and try to do something more," Brown says.

Many Republican leaders in the state praised the deal. That includes Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) who said in a statement the agreement will "reduce our trade deficit with China and will give us a more level playing field by protecting our intellectual property and addressing China's currency manipulation."

Portman said the deal is a building block towards creating a more balanced economic relationship between the U.S. and China.

"But the agreement will only remain durable over time if it is enforced. That is why it is significant that this agreement includes the option to re-impose tariffs should China fail to hold up its new commitments, including preventing the theft of intellectual property," Portman said in a written statement.

Portman said there is still more work to do in "Phase Two" to fully address what he calls "China's unfair trade practices."  

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