Trade

The New Nightmare is Same As The Old “Nightmare”

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Declaring an end to our long national "nightmare," Trump signed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) into law this afternoon during a glorified ceremony outside the White House.

The trade agreement won't actually take effect until it's ratified by the Canadian government, but you'll be happy to know that it doesn't really matter in any case.

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will replace the 26-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, including tougher rules on labor and automotive content but leaving $1.2 trillion in annual U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade flows largely unchanged.

Today, we are finally ending the NAFTA nightmare and signing into law the brand-new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” Trump told the crowd. Flanked by a group of American workers wearing hard hats, Trump said the agreement would bolster U.S. economic growth, benefiting farmers, workers and manufacturers.

You would think this would be exactly the right time for Wall Street to light their hair fire, but that's not happening today because the threat of a global virus outbreak is weighing on stocks a little more than a fake trade agreement.

If the USMCA is not a "nightmare" like Trump says the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was, then NAFTA never was either.

Both liberal and a far lesser number of conservative critics have long pointed their fingers at NAFTA and singled out the 30-year-old trade agreement as the source of all ills in the economy, but some of those same critics threw their support behind the USMCA which is effectively identical to NAFTA.

The UMSCA will mean exactly diddly-squat to the vast majority of "farmers, workers and manufacturers," and if various labor organizations and liberal members of Congress believe the USMCA is acceptable, their opposition to NAFTA was equally as contrived.

Those are harsh words, I suppose, but I've been listening to folks bleat about NAFTA for most of my life and now that Trump has signed an identical agreement into law, no one seems to give a shit anymore. It's almost as if largely liberal opposition to free trade was based on personality and populist sentiment rather than empirical economics.

I'm going to remember this when the next Democratic president tries to reenter the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the same voices start bleating again after not even raising their voices to fight Trump's fake NAFTA replacement.

  • muselet

    All trade agreements cause problems for some segments of the economy. A good trade agreement is one in which all signatories get some net benefit to their economies.

    NAFTA was a good agreement. Not perfect, not great, but good. Overall, USMCA won’t do much for any of the three economies because it doesn’t change much. It’s a slightly-tweaked NAFTA, and as such is consequently also a good agreement, albeit one with Donald Trump’s name scrawled across it in Sharpie.

    There will always be insincere opposition to trade agreements from the Left, the Right and the Barking (eg: Donald Trump, who hates all multilateral agreements).

    I find it noteworthy, to go slightly off-topic, that Trump didn’t bother to invite any Ds to the ceremonial signing. Why, it’s almost as if he’s trying to pretend he personally negotiated every word of the agreement with no assistance from anyone. Sad.

    –alopecia