Art of the Deal

It’s been a long time coming but we finally have seen a big step towards passage of USMCA. Negotiators from the U.S., Mexico and Canada made some changes and reached an agreement that House Democratic leaders, the White House and even labor unions are supporting. It’s been a long time in the making and still has a ways to go needing Congressional approval here and passage in Mexico and Canada. That approval is expected rather quickly in Mexico and probably in the U.S. House but will probably have to wait until next month in Canada and the U.S. Senate. While the new deal is certainly very good news for U.S. agriculture, it was a lot of work and worry to basically get an update to the current NAFTA deal. Despite President Trump’s repeated claims that NAFTA was a terrible deal the facts for agriculture said otherwise. No doubt updates were needed and improvements in dairy and poultry are welcomed. Overall, time will tell if USMCA is significantly better than NAFTA. Hopefully it will have been worth it. So why did it happen now after a year of debate and negotiations? These deals are always about more than just the trading of goods. They’re about politics and assigning credit and blame. Supporters will now point to the deal’s benefits and critics will warn of its shortcomings Both will probably be somewhat correct as no deal is perfect and there are always unintended consequences. Bottom line is even though we still have NAFTA in place, the possibility of the U.S. pulling out of the current deal was a real concern. As much as USMCA offers improvements it provides certainty to keep what we have even more. Now comes the inevitable claim of credit. This is the art of the deal and the real breakthrough that had to happen to get it done. Heading into an election year President Trump will take credit for following through on his promise to get rid of NAFTA and replace it with a deal he negotiated. House Democrats, not wanting to hand the President a victory, can now say they improved the deal by getting changes they wanted and how without their efforts the deal would not have been as good. That’s especially important to Democrats running for re-election in districts President Trump won in the last election. It took both sides working together, even if their motives were not necessarily pure, to get a deal done. Perhaps this was a case of the end justifying the means.