How Much of the Transpacific Partnership is in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement?

24 Pages Posted: 4 Jul 2019

See all articles by Wolfgang Alschner

Wolfgang Alschner

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Rama Panford-Walsh

University of Ottawa, Common Law Section, Students

Date Written: June 26, 2019

Abstract

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) provided the first opportunity for the Trump administration to translate its “America First” trade policy into specific treaty design. In this article, we evaluate how radical these changes have been by systematically comparing the USMCA to its predecessors. We find that, first, the USMCA copies 57 percent of its text from the Transpacific Partnership (TPP), which Trump had repudiated and unsigned once he took office. Compared to U.S. treaty practice generally, the USCMA is more of a continuation rather than a departure from prior texts. Second, we systematically investigate where the USMCA diverges from the TPP. We find that USMCA treaty design differences can be grouped in five categories: (1) structural remnants of NAFTA, such as bi-national panels to review trade remedies; (2) “America First” elements, such as tighter rules of origins; (3) modernizations, e.g. by incorporating TPP innovations on digital trade; (4) additions on non-U.S. policy priorities, such as gender rights, promoted by the other USMCA states; and finally (5) changes of a more technical nature. In sum, contrary to Trump’s rhetoric, the USMCA does not usher in a new generation of trade agreements, but it does engage in targeted innovations that are driven by varying policy considerations that include but are not limited to his “America First” agenda.

Keywords: USMCA, TPP, Textual Similarity, Narratives, Empirical Analysis

Suggested Citation

Alschner, Wolfgang and Panford-Walsh, Rama, How Much of the Transpacific Partnership is in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement? (June 26, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3410658 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3410658

Wolfgang Alschner (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
Canada

Rama Panford-Walsh

University of Ottawa, Common Law Section, Students ( email )

Ottawa, Ontario
Canada

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