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I attended a dinner last week where the topic of the United States-Canada-Mexico Trade Agreement (USMCA) came up, with the central question focused on the significance of the agreement. One guest put it in the “did no harm” category—a lot of constructive tweaks on digital trade, intellectual property, state-owned enterprises, and other “upgrades” I’ve discussed in previous columns, and compromises on most of the more unsettling administration demands like a sunset clause. However, others, including me, offered a more ominous interpretation—USMCA, along with some other initiatives, essentially heralds a return to managed trade, albeit a soft one, at least so far.

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