Whether you're a Democrat, Republican, or an independent, you should welcome President Trump's announcement of the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, on Monday.
A replacement for NAFTA, the USMCA will increase U.S. access to Canadian markets and ensure greater centering of the car industry in North America. That centering will damage China's export of car parts into the U.S. market. The biggest reason to celebrate this deal is what it insures going forwards. By consolidating a free trade environment across the North America, the vast majority of Americans, Canadians, and Mexicans will find mutual benefit. And in that mutual benefit this free trade will lubricate closer diplomacy on other issues.
Of course, free trade skeptics will believe the president has given away too much here without enough in return. But while I recognize that NAFTA was damaging to certain industries, that damage was far outweighed by the positive benefits that NAFTA brought to most Americans. Because NAFTA - and free trade broadly - lowered living costs for Americans, increased the range of goods of services available to consumers, and created opportunities for long term U.S. economic dominance in high-value economic sectors like the tech industry.
This is not to say that it is preferable to remove all barriers to trade.
When it comes to China, for example, Beijing's rampant abuse of the global trade framework and its capricious absorption of U.S. intellectual property means that Trump is absolutely right to play hardball. Still, the USMCA offers Trump a success and a viable platform with which to agree new trade deals in other areas such as the Asian-Pacific, the Indo-Pacific, and with Europe. The markets will respond positively to Trump's realistic dealmaking here. In turn, if Trump can now follow up this agreement with other deals around the world he will inject new energy into the already booming U.S. economy.