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Between Free Trade and 'America First': Analyzing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement

The Wilson Center’s Canada and Mexico Institutes hosted a discussion on a new era in North America’s trade relations.

Date & Time

Oct. 5, 2018
9:00am – 10:00am ET


6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
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After a two-year period of uncertainty on the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the United States Mexico and Canada reached a new deal on the U.S. self-imposed deadline of September 30. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is now pending approval from each country’s legislature. If approved, what potential results will come from the agreement?

The Wilson Center’s Canada and Mexico Institutes hosted a discussion on the beginning of a new era in North America’s trade relations.

Infographic: The USMCA >>>

Selected Quotes

Laura Dawson
  • “The fact that we have status quo on chapter 19, the trade remedies review; status quo on government procurement, status quo on labor mobility – that is actually three incredible victories for Canada. But the chattering classes are saying, ‘How come you didn’t do better?’”
  • “Most of the airspace in the Canada-U.S. negotiation was spent talking about dairy. Dairy is worth less than one percent of the bilateral trade relationship.” 
  • “[It] concerns me that national security tariffs may become an institutionalized part of American trade policy.” 
Kellie Meiman Hock
  • “This [public text] was done really fast, which isn’t uncommon. It’s uncommon to have this much that’s not finalized, but there will be room to improve for sure.” 
  • “The good news is that the dollar-for-dollar proposal that the United States had on the table did go away, which would have been disastrous for market access.”
  • “I would argue that the minimum wage component in there – while it’s drastically going to increase the costs of a car, potentially, depending on how folks mess with their supply chains – as far as a consensus-building element, it’s actually pretty compelling. It’s a pretty creative way to try to encourage wage increases.” 
Amb. Earl Anthony Wayne
  • “In the early 90s, there were 700,000 American jobs that depended on trade with Mexico. In 2015, there were 4.9 million. That’s a big shift in economic relationships in peoples’ lives... We really do have to understand what the costs are of this new agreement much better than we do right now, but we can also start shifting back to actually building better and more efficiently, not only for our consumers, but to compete in the world.”
  • “There is a lot of tough competition out there. There is China, but there’s not only China. There’s all sorts of other people producing stuff, and North America, by working together, has been much more competitive.” 
  • “It’s important to remember that there’s still 12.8 billion dollars worth of U.S. exports under Canadian tariffs and 3.5 billion dollars of U.S. exports under Mexican tariffs – so the value of this is so much larger than, let’s say, the dairy market access that was gained.”
Duncan Wood
  • “This whole process has forced so many people to come out and defend NAFTA and free trade in a way that very few people were willing to do beforehand.” 


  • Laura Dawson

    • Director, Canada Institute, Wilson Center
  • Kellie Meiman Hock
    • Managing Partner, McLarty Associates
  • Ambassador Earl Anthony Wayne
    • Public Policy Fellow, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center  


  • Duncan Wood

    • Director, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center 

Hosted By

Mexico Institute

The Mexico Institute seeks to improve understanding, communication, and cooperation between Mexico and the United States by promoting original research, encouraging public discussion, and proposing policy options for enhancing the bilateral relationship. A binational Advisory Board, chaired by Luis Téllez and Earl Anthony Wayne, oversees the work of the Mexico Institute.   Read more

Canada Institute

Bound by common geopolitical interests and strong economic and cultural ties, Canada and the United States enjoy the world's most successful bilateral relationship. The Wilson Center's Canada Institute is the only public policy forum in the world dedicated to the full spectrum of Canada-U.S. issues. The Canada Institute is a global leader for policymakers, academics and business leaders to engage in non-partisan, informed dialogue about the current and future state of the relationship.     Read more

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