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After more than a year of intense negotiations, Canada, Mexico and the United States have agreed on a trilateral trade deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, a nearly 25-year-old pact that has been excoriated by U.S. President Donald Trump as the “worst trade deal ever.” While the leaders of all three countries applauded the new agreement — Trump with typical hyperbole called it “the most modern, up-to-date and balanced trade agreement in the history of our country” — the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is in fact a revised version of NAFTA, leavened with dollops of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The new deal should not prove disruptive to existing trade — good news for Japanese automobile manufacturers that invested heavily in NAFTA — but the negotiating process is worrying. The U.S. bluffed and bullied, setting a troubling precedent for future trade talks, and one that Japan must prepare for as Tokyo commences negotiations with Washington as recently agreed.

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