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Trump’s North American Trade Charade

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12.10.2018

WASHINGTON, DC – When the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was announced, it was met by a sigh of relief around the world. A deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement meant that a complete disaster had been averted. Repudiation of NAFTA with no replacement would have been so costly that it was always a distant possibility, but it was a possibility all the same.

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Still, the best that can be said is that the worst will not happen. Two of most damaging US proposals were rejected or weakened significantly. First, instead of a sunset clause that would have forced a renegotiation every five years, the parties agreed to a 16-year sunset, with a review of the arrangement every six years. Given that a five-year renewal schedule would have created massive uncertainty for businesses and governments alike, the 16-year proviso is to be welcomed. That said, it remains to be seen what the six-year review will entail.

Second, the “Chapter 19” dispute-settlement mechanism that the Trump administration wanted to kill has been retained, albeit in a........

© Project Syndicate