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Published: Friday, 5/2/2003

Kaptur on Taft's trade trip - with 1 condition

BY KELLY LECKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur said she would join Gov. Bob Taft on his trade mission to Mexico if he would visit companies that left Ohio and headed south of the border since the North American Free Trade Agreement was passed.

“I hope that he gives top priority to visiting companies that have left Ohio,” Miss Kaptur (D., Toledo) said. “Let's go take a look at what those workers earn.”

Miss Kaptur, an outspoken critic of NAFTA, said the trade agreement has cost Ohio thousands of jobs and created some of the budget problems the state faces today. Specifically, she urged Mr. Taft to visit LG Philips Displays, which closed its facility in Ottawa and moved to Gomez Palacio, Mexico.

A spokesman for Mr. Taft said that while state officials appreciate Miss Kaptur's offer to join the governor in touring the companies, the trip is focused on expanding exports and bringing companies to Ohio. The spokesman noted the high number of participants from northwest Ohio going to Mexico, and said he is pleased Miss Kaptur's constituents are taking advantage of the trip.

Mr. Taft is leading a delegation of 65 people representing 49 organizations from Ohio who seek to increase their business in Mexico. State development leaders have said the focus will be on finding opportunities to export more goods to Mexico, Ohio's second-largest importer.

The delegation leaves May 13.

But Miss Kaptur said Mr. Taft should focus on helping the thousands who lost their jobs in Ohio because companies moved to Mexico, where production costs are lower and workers live on “starvation wages.” She also invited the governor to visit cities that lost companies, including Ottawa and Sandusky, and try to find alternative work for the displaced employees.



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