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The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) differs in a few important ways from prior trade deals signed by the United States but reveals a glimpse of the infrastructure for a new era in international economic governance. This new “Geoeconomic World Order,” will be characterized by great power rivalry between the United States and China, the intense use of protectionist tools to achieve strategic and political goals, and the diminished role of legal adjudication. This approach to trade policy will likely outlast the autocratic and/or nationalistic governments emerging around the world, including the current Trump administration. While international trade law will recover, it will look different in key respects—it will be less multilateral, predictable, justiciable, and enforceable. This more transactional view of international trade law implies a limit on the role of law and an increase in the use of power. It may force a retrenchment of international interdependence and a revival of zones of influence prevalent during the Cold War era.
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