On the campaign trail, Donald Trump deemed NAFTA "the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere" and pledged to redo the whole accord or scrap it altogether. It turns out, though, that Trump seems pretty content with the status quo.
On Monday the White House released a 17-page summary of its objectives for renegotiating NAFTA, the most concrete indication of Trump's thinking on transforming the deal to date.
And here's the surprising thing: There's very little in the document that represents a radical break from the rules that have governed free trade between Canada, the US, and Mexico since NAFTA took effect in 1994.
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Instead, it's a document of compromise: It has a few controversial and Trumpian principles in it, but many of its propositions are standard fare for modern free trade agreements.
In fact, a number of its most substantial reforms can actually be traced back to Obama-era negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership — the behemoth free trade deal that Trump torpedoed on his first full working day in the White House. In other words, Trump has ended up embracing some of his free trade-loving predecessor's values instead of repudiating them.
"This is not a full-throated war cry," said Phil Levy, a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and a former senior official on then-President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers. "The Trump trade team recognizes that they're under a lot of constraints."