Magazine December 09, 2019, Issue

NAFTA Was Good, and the USMCA Is Okay

President Donald Trump delivers remarks on supporting the passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade deal in Milwaukee, Wis., July 12, 2019. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Assessing the new trade pact with Canada and Mexico

President Trump could be on the verge of his biggest bipartisan accomplishment — right in the middle of an impeachment inquiry and, even more oddly, partly because of it. This triumph would be the passage of a slightly modified version of what he has called “perhaps the worst trade deal ever made.”

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was a populist whipping boy even before its 1993 enactment. Ross Perot, Pat Buchanan, and the labor movement led the charge against it, while the Clinton administration and the leading Republicans in Congress backed it. The debate at the time trafficked in

This article appears as “‘The Worst Trade Deal’ Gets Even Better” in the December 9, 2019, print edition of National Review.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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