If you need a reminder that the stakes of the ongoing NAFTA talks are high, look no further than Fostoria.
The Sandusky County city’s Autolite spark plug plant, which was once Fostoria’s biggest employer with more than 1,000 workers, just cut 35 of its 40 remaining jobs. The factory’s production line closed for a final time last week and the plant is on its way to being entirely shut down.
Northwest Ohio and its manufacturing sector have taken a big hit in the 24 years since the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed. The Autolite plant is just the latest victim in a decades-long trend of shuttered factories and lost manufacturing jobs.
President Donald Trump campaigned on promises of renewing and restoring America’s manufacturing. And Mr. Trump promised to renegotiate a NAFTA deal that would help accomplish that renewal.
Six rounds of talks that began last year have produced tense negotiations among the United States, Canada, and Mexico, but no new deal. The seventh round of NAFTA talks is scheduled to begin later this month in Mexico City.
Mr. Trump has threatened to terminate the NAFTA deal if the countries cannot reach agreement on terms more favorable to the United States. Lawmakers, including Ohio’s senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown have said scrapping the deal entirely would be a mistake.
Instead, they have urged the president to bargain a new NAFTA deal that is better for Ohio’s manufacturers and their employees than the 24-year-old deal many blame for economic woes in the region.
The two senators have urged Mr. Trump and his trade negotiators to aim for a deal that expands the markets available for goods made in Ohio and protects the jobs of people who make them. That goal is beyond debate.
There must be a new, better, more equitable NAFTA deal to improve life for long forgotten workers in Ohio.
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