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GOP senator concerned about Trump tariff battles

July 6, 2018

FILE - In this April 16, 2018 file photo, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, speaks during a news conference at a Kroger supermarket as the company announces new associate benefits attributed to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, in Cincinnati. Portman, a U.S. trade representative during George W. Bush's presidency, says he supports being tough with China but would like to see more caution and more negotiation with the European Union, Canada and Mexico. The United States and China launched a trade war with each other Friday, July 6. The Trump administration's tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from U.S. allies have also triggered trade retaliation. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

CINCINNATI (AP) — A Republican senator who’s a former U.S. trade official voiced concern Friday about the impact President Donald Trump’s trade battles will have on the Ohio economy.

Sen. Rob Portman, a U.S. trade representative during George W. Bush’s presidency, said he supports being tough with China but would like to see more caution and negotiating with the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

The United States and China launched a trade war with each other on Friday.

The Trump administration’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from U.S. allies also have triggered trade retaliation.

“To me that’s concerning, because it’s going to hurt some of our Ohio jobs; farmers, workers, some of our service providers,” Portman said. “I go around the state talking to people, they’re worried about it.”

But Portman said the United States does need to ensure that countries “play fair,” and that China should reciprocate on trade and investment and shouldn’t take intellectual property without following rules.

“I think the administration needs to shake it up a little with China,” Portman said.

In dealing with the steel tariffs and Canada, Mexico and European Union, he said there should be more efforts to work out trade differences.

“Let’s be very careful how we go forward,” Portman said. “Let’s try to negotiate something ... let’s not get into a trade war in the meantime, because that will hurt both sides.”

Portman on Friday visited PreventionFirst!, a Cincinnati-based anti-drug coalition he’s long been involved with.

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Follow Dan Sewell at http://www.twitter.com/dansewell

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