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Government & Politics

Trump's Threats to Withdraw From NAFTA Cause Worry For Ohio Businesses

photo of Rubrik's cube with American, Mexican and Canadian Flags on it

Negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, enter their sixth round this week. And some Ohio companies are worried the U.S. will follow through on the President's threat to withdraw from the nearly 25-year-old agreement. 

Trump has repeatedly called NAFTA the "worst deal ever." But that feeling isn't shared by a lot of area business owners.

"Ohio has benefited a lot from it over the course of the last quarter century or so," said Marty McGann.

Marty McGann is with the Greater Cleveland Partnership, which represents some 8-thousand companies in Northeast Ohio. He's meeting this week in Montreal with business advocates from Mexico, Canada, and other U.S. cities. One of their main goals is to figure out how to keep the U.S. in the game.

Credit Ohio Development Services Agency / U.S. Census Bureau
In 2016, Ohio was the 8th largest exporting state, with about $49.1 billion worth of goods being shipped out of state, according to an analysis by the Ohio Development Services Agency.

"Nobody's disagreed that there's need to modernize this agreement. I think it's really about making sure those modernizations take place," said McGann.

McGann declined to elaborate on what specific policies would make a more "modern" NAFTA deal. And he wouldn't say what industries are expressing the most concern over it. But according to the U.S. Census Bureau, over half of Ohio's exports come from just a few industries, manufacturers of machinery, auto and aircraft parts, oil seed, and plastics. Negotiations are scheduled to take place over the next week. 

Credit Ohio Development Services Agency / U.S. Census Bureau
Machinery, vehicle parts, aircraft parts, plastics, and oilseed account for the majority of goods Ohio ships internationally.