President Trump is apparently a trade alchemist. He’s taken the core of NAFTA (the “worst trade deal ever”), liberally sprinkled in modern rules from the Trans Pacific Partnership (a “potential disaster”), and created a “brand new” trade deal — the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
Trump’s hyperbole aside, the USMCA, while not perfect, would do a creditable job of preserving the essential rules of the road for North America’s highly integrated, $22 trillion economy. It would also update the decades-old NAFTA by, among other things, adding enforceable labor and environmental rules, promoting digital commerce, and cutting red tape for small business. Given Trump’s years of railing against NAFTA and repeated threats to terminate the Agreement, this is a positive development.
For the USMCA to enter into force, it must be approved by Congress, including the Democratic-controlled House. In recent weeks, Trump hasn’t been helping this process. Insulting and trying to bulldoze House Democratic leaders and threatening damaging new tariffs on Mexico are hardly constructive strategies.
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