With great fanfare — and without the presence of the Democratic congressional contingent that pushed for ratification — President Donald Trump signed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday morning, with some 400 guests including farmers, CEOs and workers in attendance.

The deal is a reboot of the North American Free Trade Agreement that has governed trade between the United States and its neighbors since 1994. Although Trump has promoted USMCA as a wholesale overhaul that replaced the “NAFTA nightmare,” as he called it in his remarks Wednesday, trade experts said this characterization was inaccurate.

“USMCA is 95 percent the existing NAFTA agreement,” said Jacob Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “There are provisions in there that cover things like e-commerce and digital services, but with regard to the manufacturing sector, for instance, there’s very little change.”


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