U.S. President Donald Trump has finally agreed to a fairly modest and sensible update of the North American Free Trade Agreement, while attempting to spin the announcement as the replacement of a horrendous deal with a magnificent new one. The supposed newness of the Sept. 30 agreement, which still requires Congressional approval, is belied by the fact that many of its updates to the original NAFTA had already been contemplated in the Obama administration’s proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). That multilateral regional trade deal would have also included Mexico and Canada, and its provisions covering e-commerce and intellectual property would have served as overdue updates to NAFTA. But Trump scrapped the TPP, only to have his trade negotiators crib from it to salvage NAFTA. The new deal also includes some provisions the administration insisted upon to protect the U.S. auto industry.

On the whole, however, those in the know are right to question the president’sv   his ne...

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