On FOX Business, Portman Discusses Tariff, Energy, and Trade Policy, Urges the Biden Administration to Get Tougher on China

June 6, 2022 | Portman Difference

Senator Portman joined FOX Business’ Kudlow this afternoon to discuss the positive impacts of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, energy policy, and the Biden administration’s announcement of a moratorium on solar panel tariffs. Portman agreed with Kudlow that the current energy policy is headed in the wrong direction and noted the benefits of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, such as a much faster and more efficient streamlining process. Senator Portman also discussed his view that the U.S. should not be dependent on China when it comes to energy production and solar panels, especially as the Commerce Department continues to investigate the circumvention of U.S. trade remedies on China’s solar producers.

A transcript of the interview can be found below and you can also watch the interview here

 

 

 

PORTMAN ON POSITIVE IMPACT OF BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCTIRE LEGLATION ON INFLATION

“I think you're spot-on in terms of the impact on inflation. I'm glad to hear you say earlier that done right infrastructure actually is counter-inflationary which it absolutely is. It makes us more productive as a society. An example would be the bottleneck in Ohio with one huge bridge that we've been talking about for 30 years. It’s going to get fixed under this bill. That will help the economy, therefore help with regard to inflation. But, the same is true with the permitting. Whether it’s an energy project, or whether it’s an agriculture project or just development in general. So, what’s happening right now is on the one hand the president is saying that inflation is too high so we'll make some changes to be counter-inflationary and yet they're putting out policies that are going to add to higher inflation and that is because the supply side is going to be diminished at a time we should do all we can to do expand supply so that demand can catch up to it. So, I think you're right. Unfortunately this is the direction the administration is going on a number of fronts.”

“Well, first of all the legislation has historic changes to the permitting process which is one thing that you know, we Republicans got a great win there. The Trump administration put into practice some of this but it wasn't codified. So we actually codified, put into law, this idea that one agency can decide the rule that there has to be a faster time frame in terms of permitting stuff. We actually put in something where we're expanding the use of this infrastructure commission in the Congress that looks at, in the White House, sorry, that looks at different infrastructure projects. So there is a lot of positive stuff in there, but, then on the other hand they're saying they want to change the NEPA rules which of course is one of the huge issues with regard to permitting, and now this. So yeah, it is counter to that. I would still argue by law we put in stuff they cannot counteract in terms of the actual roads and bridges, and those sorts of things. But, yeah, we're in constant as you can imagine, a constant discussion with them. We had a meeting with Secretary Buttigieg about a month ago, those of us who were involved in the infrastructure bill. And basically said what you're talking about doing is counter to what the legislative intent is and what the actual statutory language says.”

PORTMAN ON BIDEN ADMINSTRATION’S ENERGY POLICY

“No, it is so true and when you look what is happening in terms of energy, when the administration came in they did a number of things to stifle fossil fuel production. We all know that. It was the Keystone XL pipeline, no new exploration on federal lands and waters. Just in general an anti-fossil fuel philosophy, this is broader than that. This is about the Clean Water Act, and basically saying yes but states you can stop things not because of clean water but rather you can take a holistic approach. Which I suppose means taking into account other factors like climate change. So that is going to be a big change. It will hurt with regard to all kinds of energy projects. By the way solar and wind permitting is a big issue out there. It is hard to get them permitted. So, it is counter to even what they're trying to do in terms of more green energy. It’s inflationary and even counter even to some of the thing they want to get done.”

PORTMAN ON TRADE TARIFFS AND CHINA


“Well first of all, there is a Section 301 report that was issued by the previous administration that lays out in detail what China does which is not fair in terms of subsidizing their products or selling them below cost. Therefore, this trade sanction was put into place. So it’s based on a carefully thought out report which I don't think anybody particularly disagrees with, that China is not playing by the rules. So until you do, you have a tariff put in place. What the administration is talking about is reducing these tariffs without getting any concession from China in terms of one, just upholding what we already agreed to in, so called, Phase One of an agreement with them, which is what the Trump administration did, but two, these broader issues which were raised in the 301 report. So I think it is a mistake, and that’s why I cosigned the letter. I do believe there should be an exclusion policy. And so I may differ with some people on that. But in other words if you're a company in America, let's say you're bringing something in from China, that is a relatively small part of your production but essential, but it is not made in America and you can't get it elsewhere, that there should be a process to look at that. The Trump administration put such an exclusion policy in place and some companies were given an exclusion from tariffs. I think that’s appropriate. That has been stopped as well. So there is neither an exclusion policy nor is there a decision whether to keep the tariffs or not.  I think the tariffs should be stay but there should be a way, logically, reasonably to look at appropriate exclusions. Does that make sense, Larry?”

PORTMAN ON ADMINISTRATION DECISION TO DROP TARIFFS ON SOLAR PANELS FROM CHINA

“Well it's a very complicated issue but bottom line for me is we do not want our economy to be once again dependent on China for something and right now that is where it is headed and that’s with regard to solar panels. There are just a couple manufacturers here in the United States who are competitive right now. And what they have said to us, including one that happens to have a big facility in Ohio, is they cannot compete with China because China is not playing by the rules. And sure enough a case was filed on that. And it was determined that there should be a study of this, which is ongoing on right now, because it appears as though China again is subsidizing their solar panel production and selling them at below cost which is illegal under our trade laws, so that is going on. And I think that is appropriate, because otherwise we're going to have no solar industry in America. We're going to be relying on cheaper, yes, but unfairly traded Chinese products. However the solar industry here, mostly, with exception of those two companies, maybe another smaller one or two, are saying bring on the cheap solar panels regardless of what China is doing in terms of fair trade or unfair trade. Including the allegation, which is now being studied with regard to the use of Uyghur slave labor. So this is about the Uyghurs as well. And so my view is, allow the study to go. The Commerce Department is doing it right now. And instead what the president announced today as I understand it he is that he is going to move ahead with this presidential declaration saying there shall be no tariffs on the Chinese products for I think at least a year. To me, you know, let's get the facts and let's do this right and if China is not playing by the rules which I believe is true, and I believe will be borne out by this report, then we should not allow them to take over our solar industries. By the way, there is a big disagreement on this because a lot of the people who are more on the green energy side are happy to get cheap solar panels, and aren’t not worried about impact on Uyghurs or impact on American companies here through unfair trade so that is the issue being debated right now, and I come out on the fact we ought to have a industry here in America able to compete. Let's make sure everybody plays by the rules.”