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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

Mike Allen, author of AM
4 hours ago - World

Courage vs. coddling with China

Peng Shuai of China serves during the China Open in Beijing in 2017. Photo: Andy Wong/AP

The women's professional tennis tour suspended tournaments in China Wednesday out of concern for Peng Shuai, on the same day that a top business voice made excuses for Beijing.

Why it matters: Ahead of February's Winter Olympics in Beijing, some sports figures are taking on the regime — while Big Business shrinks from confrontation with the world's second-largest economy.

4 hours ago - Sports

What to know about the first MLB lockout since 1995

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Hope you enjoyed the recent flurry of free-agent activity, because it's likely the last non-lockout-related MLB news for a while.

Driving the news: The owners locked out the players after the collective bargaining agreement expired at midnight last night, leading to MLB's ninth work stoppage — and first since 1995.

Biden extends mask mandates for travelers into 2022

President Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Dec. 1. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

President Biden will announce new testing protocols for international travelers on Thursday and extend masking requirements through March as the U.S. prepares to fight the Omicron variant this winter, according to senior administration officials.

Driving the news: The U.S. will tighten pre-departure testing protocols starting early next week by requiring all inbound international travelers to take COVID-19 tests within one day of their departure rather than three.