Donald Trump pledged on the campaign trail to get rid of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. His trade delegation did just that, at least in name, dubbing the renegotiated version of the deal USMCA, or US-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
This morning (Nov. 30) in Buenos Aires, Trump joined with Canadian and Mexican leaders to sign the new agreement, a mostly ceremonial move since it still needs to be approved by lawmakers at home. In the US, Congress isn’t expected to review it until January.
The US’s new name for the deal purposely echoes the acronym for the United States Marine Corp, USMC, “which I love,” Trump noted in September. Not surprisingly, though, the US-first part of the deal’s name hasn’t translated well in Canada or Mexico. Both countries are adopting acronyms that put their nations first, their leaders said at the sidelines of the G-20 summit today. (It’s worth noting that the agreement itself isn’t remarkably different from the NAFTA deal first signed in 1992.)
In Canada, the deal will be called the CUSMA in English, for the Canada-US-Mexico Agreement and the ACEUM, for Accord Canada-États-Unis-Mexique, in French. Mexico will refer to it as T-MEC, for Tratado entre México, Estados Unidos y Canadá, after incoming president Andrés Manuel López Obrador started a Twitter poll to rename USMCA into something that makes sense in Spanish.
The USMCA acronym quickly became the butt of jokes after Trump introduced it this fall.
The NAFTA deal itself was officially called different things in French-speaking Canada (where it was known as Accord de libre-échange nord-américain, ALÉNA) and Mexico (where it was known as Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte, or TLCAN).
Countries putting their name first in the official local legal documents of trade deals is common practice worldwide, as a Canadian Broadcasting Company reporter points out. But today’s ceremony in Buenos Aires reflects how awkward Trump’s renaming effort was. Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau made a point of referring to the deal during the signing as simply the “new NAFTA.”