Ryan Criticizes Tariffs After Thomas Steel Visit

WARREN, Ohio – U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan backs President Donald Trump’s tariffs on products manufactured in China, but questioned placing them on traditional U.S. allies.

Ryan toured Thomas Steel Strip Corp. Monday and met with executives at the West Market Street plant, which treats steel for use in the consumer battery market. The meeting and tour were closed to the media.

Ryan, D-13 Ohio, expressed concern over the tariffs because the company imports steel from Europe that it can’t get in the United States.

“The concern is that the tariffs that will be placed on their product will be passed along to the customer, and in a year or two may not be as competitive of a price,” Ryan said during a news conference at his downtown Warren office following the tour. “They may start looking offshore for someone to make the kind of product that Thomas makes.”

In March, Trump announced a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum imports but invited countries “with which the United States shares a security relationship to discuss alternative mans to address threatened impairment to the national security caused by their steel and aluminum exports” here, according to a White House statement.

Though it reached agreements with nations including South Korea, Australia, Argentina and Brazil on steel, it was unable to reach a deal with Canada, Mexico or the European Union.

Ryan told reporters he supports a level playing field for trade with other countries. Canada and the European Union have similar, if not better, environmental protections, workplace safety regulations, wages and pensions, he pointed out.

“They’re our allies. We’re also friendly nations with them,” he added. “If tariffs are going to hurt workers here in the United States, I’m going to be against them, especially when we’re dealing with allied countries that work with us on a lot of military and other issues.”

He also warned that Ohio and Michigan are the top two states that would be affected by the Canadian tariffs.

Ryan supports the tariffs Trump has imposed on China because it engages in activities – such as dumping steel and stealing intellectual property – that warrants “some kind of punishment for its behavior,” Ryan said.

“Going after Europe, going after Canada ends up hurting a company like Thomas Steel more for no good reason,” he added.

Pushing for an exemption for Thomas might be one approach, he said.

“But just starting fights all over the world with friendly countries is not a way in my mind to go about doing business,” he said. “China is the target here. To me, they’re the ones who are cheating. They’re the ones who have been manipulating their currency. They’re the ones who have been dumping steel.”

He criticized the president for being “more concerned with winning the 24-hour news cycle than the substance of the matter he’s dealing with. To me, that creates a lot of chaos.”

During the news conference, the congressman weighed in on the recent decision by the Trump administration to separate children from families entering the United States illegally and detain them. News reports put the total of children being held in custody at more than 2,000.

The administration policy – which Trump has blamed on Democrats, despite the fact that no law requires the separation of families – has drawn bipartisan criticism, most notably recently from former First Lady Laura Bush and President Bill Clinton, as well as faith leaders of various denominations.

The practice “appalled” Ryan, who said he – as most Americans do – want a secure border.

“What the president is doing to these families is abhorrent. It goes against everything we believe in as a country,” he said. “The president does not need to do this. We can solve this problem and we should.”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.