North American Free Trade Agreement
In January 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect. The United States, Mexico, and Canada removed trade barriers to encourage trade between the three countries. Ohio business owners welcomed NAFTA’s implementation, believing that their markets would increase. Ohio factory workers feared NAFTA, contending that United States business owners would move their factories to Mexico, where labor costs were dramatically less than in the United States, including in Ohio. Substantiating workers’ fears, some businesses did move their manufacturing operations to Mexico, however, it was not on as wide a scale as unions and workers initially feared. Some Ohio businesses did move out of the country, but this had been occurring since the 1960s and 1970s as labor costs soared.