2. North America: Just don't call it NAFTA
President Trump hailed his NAFTA update today as "the most important trade deal we've ever made by far."
Between the lines: Trump says the deal he's calling the USMCA (U.S., Mexico, Canada agreement) is "brand new." But it doesn't appear that different from NAFTA, unless you're in the dairy or auto industries. Still, after all the drama and acrimony, we've actually got a deal — assuming Congress signs off, that is.
- Krishnadev Calamur, The Atlantic: "The new agreement shows not only how Trump is willing to risk alliances to get the kinds of agreements he believes benefits American workers, but also how, despite protests, U.S. partners have little choice but to go along with much of what the world’s largest economy wants."
- Felix Salmon, Axios. Our Chief Financial Correspondent points out that this is an unlikely embrace of free trade from Trump: "It's NAFTA on steroids — a tiny little bit of steroids. If you hated NAFTA, you'd hate this, surely."
- James Pethokoukis, American Enterprise Institute: "A tremendous expenditure of national political capital for cosmetic changes to what Trump called the worst trade deal in US history."
The bottom line: Axios' Jonathan Swan described Trump's negotiating strategy in April as, "Threaten the outrageous, ratchet up the tension, amplify it with tweets and taunts, and then compromise on fairly conventional middle ground." Sounds about right.