During the 2016 campaign, when Donald Trump wasn’t attacking minorities or inventing asinine nicknames for his opponents, he was railing against the North American Free Trade Agreement. Of course, Trump neither understood nor wished to understand NAFTA, he just knew he could wield it like a crude cudgel against the establishment to rally disenfranchised manufacturing workers who lost their jobs due to automation and outsourcing.
Once in power, Trump knew he had to perform some kind of nominal renegotiation of the agreement so that he could claim a victory. In typical fashion, it didn’t matter if there were any real substantive changes to the trade deal because he and his base are utterly untethered from reality. If he says he pulled off the single most brilliant deal in history his credulous acolytes will lap it up, no questions asked.
Today, President Trump signed a new trade agreement with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto while in Argentina for the G20 meeting.
The renegotiated deal is called the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), a deliberate attempt by the Trump administration to paper over the fact that it represents only minor changes to NAFTA by giving it a new name. It’s a reality television branding trick from our conman leader, nothing more.
Trump even went so far as to claim, without proof, that it’s “largest, most significant, modern and balanced trade agreement in history.
"The USMCA is the largest, most significant, modern and balanced trade agreement in history." pic.twitter.com/JUjYf0tff2
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 30, 2018
Unfortunately for Trump, Trudeau wasn’t willing to meekly go along with the stunt. The LA Times reports that during his comments on the deal, the Canadian PM referred to the agreement as the “new North America Free Trade Agreement,” dashing Trump’s dishonest plan to package it as a completely new trade deal.
Not content to simply ding Trump on the name of the deal, Trudeau also referenced the recent closing of General Motors factories in the U.S.A. and Canada and called for the American president to cut back on the disastrous tariffs he’s imposed on steel and aluminum. Not surprisingly, Trump looked less than pleased.
PM Trudeau: "The recent plant closures by General Motors, which affects thousands of Canadian & American workers & their families, are a heavy blow… Donald, it's all the more reason why we need to keep working to remove the tariffs on steel & aluminum." https://t.co/IRruVYFZTn pic.twitter.com/mWadMzzkht
— The Hill (@thehill) November 30, 2018