John Harwood told MSNBC that except for some minor revisions, most of the improvements on the US trade deal with Canada were already negotiated by President Obama before Trump took office.
October 1, 2018

After the U.S. agreed to a trade deal with Canada, CNBC's John Harwood told MSNBC that most of the improvements on the deal were on Trump's desk, "the day he walked into office" as they were negotiated by President Obama.

Minutes before Trump was going to hold a presser to discuss the trade deal with Canada, John Harwood gave Craig Melvin some insight about what had actually happened.

"Is it a win for the president?" Melvin asked.

CNBC's editor at large said it was better to have a deal in place for the U.S. economy which may open up of Canada's dairy market, than not, since Trump ripped up NAFTA.

Harwood said, "but most of the improvements on the deal were on the president's desk the day he walked into office. They were negotiated by President Obama and his counterparts in Canada and Mexico as part of the Transpacific Partnership which president Trump quickly threw in the trash can.

He continued, "Mostly this is re-labeling."

Harwood wasn't sure if some changes to the auto manufacturing industry would create more jobs and higher wages for workers here in America.

"So, mostly the president who is a master marketer is putting his name on a deal that was already in place, and it's better than not having a deal," Harwood said.

Updated: Steve Benen writes: Trump changes NAFTA’s name (but not much else)

And at the Washington Post, Paul Waldman writes: Trump makes minor trade deal, declares world-historic victory

But then last week, Trump signed an update to a free trade agreement we had with South Korea, making some minor tweaks that might or might not result in more American cars being sold there. At last, a deal! Trump had called the original version, in place since 2012, a “horrible deal.” He hailed the new agreement by saying, “It’s great for South Korea. It’s great for the United States. It’s great for both.”And now that same script is being written about the new NAFTA, officially called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA (unfortunately, “Uh-sum-cuh” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue). NAFTA, Trump often said, was the worst deal in history. But with just a couple of changes, it’s now going be trumpeted as the greatest thing since the poutine taco.So what changes? Not all that much. Here are some highlights:

    • Autos: In order to qualify for zero tariffs, autos will have to have more of the manufacturing done by high-paid workers.
    • Dairy: Canada will accept more American milk and dairy products.
    • Copyright: Canada will extend the term of copyright from 50 years after the copyright holder’s death to 70 years, as the U.S. demanded.
    • Drug patents: At U.S. urging, Canada will offer enhanced patent protection for drugs, which will make them more expensive to Canadian consumers and increase profits for the drug industry.
    • Dispute resolution: A NAFTA provision allowing investors to challenge the decisions of governments has been eliminated, while another provision providing for disputes among the three countries to be settled by a panel of representatives from all three has been retained.
    • New name!

Can you help us out?

For 18 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.