Local senator explains trade agreement’s impact in Valley

Sen. Sherrod Brown said the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has hit the Youngstown area very hard

Senator Sherrod Brown and Representative Tim Ryan were both in town on Monday morning, talking with steelworkers.
FILE - Sen. Sherrod Brown talking with steelworkers in the Valley on April 24.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKBN/AP) – On Sunday, President Trump said if he’s unable to renegotiate a long-standing free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, then he’ll terminate the pact. Now a local lawmaker is commenting on what he hopes to see out of the negotiations and how important they are for the Mahoning Valley.

Trump said he’s told the leaders of Mexico and Canada that he won’t pull the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) now, but could do so if he decides a renegotiated agreement isn’t “a fair deal for all.”

Senator Sherrod Brown sent a letter to the president about NAFTA in November. Now Brown has come out with a four-point plan of what he thinks should be included in the negotiations to secure the best deal for American workers:

  • Secure anti-outsourcing and “Buy America” provisions up front
  • Don’t pit American workers and industries against each other in negotiations
  • Build enforcement tools that favor American workers, not foreign corporations if the deal is violated
  • Include workers in negotiations

“I think [Trump] got a lot of pressure against, that he wasn’t willing to stand up against on pulling us out of the agreement. I’m fine with that. I just want a better agreement,” Brown said. “You can write a trade agreement that works for workers in all countries. I’m way more interested in what this means for workers and small businesses rather than multinational corporations.”

The senator is hopeful Trump takes this side in the negotiations, saying it’s especially important for the Youngstown area.

“It’s particularly important in places like Mahoning Valley and along the Ohio River where we’ve seen what these trade agreements do,” Brown said. “They’ve hit Youngstown, NAFTA hit Steubenville so hard, it hit Dayton so hard. We know the lost jobs in the Miami Valley and how that’s shrunk the middle class, and that’s the reason this is so important, these renegotiations.”

Trump signed an executive order Saturday, directing the Commerce Department and the U.S. trade representative to conduct a study of U.S. trade agreements. The goal is to determine whether America is being treated fairly by its trading partners and the 164-nation World Trade Organization.


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