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Trump with Mexican President Peña Nieto / AP

Trade advocates in Washington who Donald Trump would've mocked as "globalists" on the campaign trail are breathing sighs of relief at his far more conventional turn on NAFTA.

Today, the Trump administration released its statement of negotiating objectives for the trade agreement. It's the first step in renegotiating the trade deal and there's nothing in there that terrifies establishment Republicans on Capitol Hill or the Mexicans and Canadians who'll ultimately be sitting across the negotiating table.

Why this matters: This document is a far cry from a couple of months ago when Trump was on the verge of withdrawing from NAFTA. (He had to be talked off a cliff by moderates in his administration, with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue famously convincing Trump by showing him a map of the "Trump country" states that would be hit hardest by the decision.)

Free-trader approval:

  • House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Dave Reichert released a statement praising the Trump administration's document. Why you should pay attention to Brady: He's a Texan with vested interest in keeping NAFTA afloat, and he's one of the most principled free-traders in Congress.
  • The Chamber of Commerce's commended the objectives because they "hew to the 'do no harm' philosophy long advocated by the business community," per Inside Trade.

In short: plenty were worried Trump would blow up NAFTA and today's document is the clearest sign they're moving in a more conventional direction.

There are no deal-breakers in the document. Establishment types were worried about hardcore nationalists like Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro inserting "poison pills" that would've made the NAFTA negotiations dead on arrival. Deal-breakers like: an explicit requirement to snap tariffs back in place unless the U.S.-Mexico trade imbalance corrects itself over a short period; or an additional U.S. border tax to offset Mexico's Value Added Tax rebates; or towering requirements for North American content to qualify for duty-free treatment.

Note of caution: This is only the first step and the document makes clear that negotiations are going to take a while. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross wants to move fast on the negotiations, but given the level of detail in this document — they want to get into product-specific technical negotiations — trade experts find it hard to see how this won't stretch well into next year.

Go deeper

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Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg and Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan raised normalization with Israel during his recent meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, three U.S. and Arab sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Saudi Arabia would be the biggest regional player to sign onto the "Abraham Accords" peace agreement with Israel, and such a major breakthrough would likely convince other Arab and Muslim countries to follow suit.

Tech's leaky world

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Tech companies are learning what everyone in Washington already knows: Leaks of confidential info are inevitable, and "plumbing" operations to close them rarely work.

Why it matters: Most tech firms talk up the power of transparency but prefer to keep details of their operations secret from competitors and the public. Researchers, regulators and the media are increasingly relying on information provided by dissident employees and whistleblowers to see inside companies' workings.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

First look: Harris wants more union membership in fed workforce

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at a virtual town hall with Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) on Oct. 14. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will today announce new guidelines to encourage federal workers to join unions, according to a White House official.

Why it matters: The Biden administration wants to bolster the collective bargaining power of workers across the country – and they are starting at home, with changes in the federal workforce.