Full Ohio Impact Of New NAFTA Deal Remains To Be Seen

Canada's Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario. (Tony Ganzer / ideastream)
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With a self-imposed Sunday deadline quickly approaching, the Trump administration finished negotiations with Canada to agree to a trade deal to supplant NAFTA.

The trade agreement will no longer be known as the North American Free Trade Agreement, instead being labelled the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

"Throughout the campaign I promised to renegotiate NAFTA," President Donald Trump said. "We have kept that promise."

The deal covers major sectors like auto manufacturing, dairy, and intellectual property. It does not touch steel and aluminum tariffs and counter-tariffs.

But it is indeed a new kind of agreement, not just NAFTA 2.0, according to Ohio State University Economist Ned Hill.

“NAFTA was an old agreement and needed some work, and some of that took place here. Is it hugely transformational? No,” Hill said. “We have to remember that Ohio is the single largest importer of goods that are targeted by Canada’s retaliatory [tariffs] to the United States on steel and aluminum. Getting closer to having good trade relations is important, even though this agreement doesn’t touch the steel and aluminum agreements.”

Hill said, in his view, the single most important comment from the press briefing announcing the deal highlighted how provisions within it would become a template for the new Trump Administration playbook for future deals.

“Some of the most important changes have nothing to do with our relationship with Canada and Mexico, but with China, because they in their included language directly address our issues on intellectual property and ownership and a few other things with China,” Hill said.

Vital to Ohio, and North America at-large, is that the deal maintains the North American production system for automobiles, Hill said, which is important for the continental supply chain.

President Trump touted this deal as being one to pour “cash and jobs” into the U.S. and North America, though Hill is cautious.

“I’m always leery at predictions of all of the sudden a Niagara Falls shows up next to Lordstown and starts spitting cash out,” Hill said. “We’re going to have to see how the details work out before we see what the impacts are.”

“What’s more important than whether there’s going to be a huge new gusher of investment,” he adds, “is it prevents an erosion of the manufacturing base in the United States and Ohio by tearing apart the North American production system. That’s the huge one.”

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