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Touring Ohio Auto Factories, Portman Urges Caution On NAFTA Renegotiation

Rob Portman
Sen. Rob Portman tours the General Motors Parma Metal Center as part of a tour of Ohio auto centers.

While President Trump this week threatened to eliminate the North American Free Trade Agreement, auto workers in Ohio told U.S. Senator Rob Portman that it has value.  

Ford, Chrysler, General Motors and Honda all have factories in Ohio, which Portman is touring this week. After a tour of GM’s Parma Metal Center, the Senator wanted to talk about cutting corporate taxes.

But he agreed that this week’s talks to renegotiate NAFTA is the elephant in the room.

“That did come up today, uh,” Portman said.   

There are 108,000 Ohioans working in the auto industry currently. Portman says the 1,300 who work in Parma are making products that go to Canada and Mexico, and sometimes come back as completed cars. 

"We gotta be sure the NAFTA agreement is updated, it needs to be modernized," Portman said. "I’ve called for that but we gotta be sure while we do it we don’t ruin the advantages we get here in Ohio from exporting to Canada and Mexico.

Portman said half of Ohio’s exports head to those two countries. 

By updating NAFTA, Portman says the trade agreement should include e-commerce as well as labor and environmental standards. 

Portman, who the country’s trade representative under George W. Bush, says it helps that today’s representative is another Ohioan, Bob Lighthizer.