A new name for NAFTA: USMCA, TEUMECA or T-MEC?

President-elect, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has officially launched his first call soliciting public opinion via a Twitter feed

A new name for NAFTA: USMCA, TEUMECA or T-MEC?
The flags of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. are seen on a lectern - Photo: Edgard Garrido/REUTERS
English 15/10/2018 16:23 Mexico City Amrita Bahri & Guillermo Moad Actualizada 16:28
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President-elect, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has officially launched his first call soliciting public opinion via a Twitter feed. It is not about what people thought it would be about and it is not happening in the way people thought it would happen.

Just after the United States, Mexico, and Canada reached a trilateral agreement and announced the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on October 1, 2018, the President-elect through a series of tweets launched his first call for seeking public opinion regarding the name and acronym that should be used to refer to the newly negotiated agreement in Spanish.

The key reason for the need to find a corresponding name and acronym in Spanish is that the name President Trump gave to the agreement—USMCA—does not have a direct translation in Spanish. This is because the acronym "A" for the word "Agreement" when translated in Spanish should be "Tratado" and not "Acuerdo" as used in the old el Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte (TLCAN). The acronym USMCA is in English and hence it is important to find its counterpart acronym in Spanish.

Owing to these reasons, the search for its Spanish version is on in Mexico. The incoming administration—along with two of the ministries of the current administration—has laid down four criteria that will guide them to find USMCA’s Spanish name and acronym.

The first criterion is that the name in Spanish should be similar to the English name. The second is that the name should start with the word "Tratado" ("T" as an acronym). The third is that the acronym in Spanish should be easily pronounceable by Spanish-language speakers. And the final criterion is quite interesting for the selection of a name in Spanish, as the incoming administration has emphasized that the name should be chosen in virtue of the spirit of cooperation between the outgoing administration and the incoming administration. This is based on the sentiment that the updated NAFTA is a product of joint efforts of the two administrations as the outgoing was instrumental in renegotiations while the incoming is going to play a significant role in ratifying and enforcing it.

In a recent tweet, the incoming administration has asked its Twitter followers to cast their vote on the two possible options for the Spanish version for USMCA. The first option is TEUMECA (Tratado/Estados Unidos/México/Canadá) and the second option is T-MEC (Tratado/México/Estados Unidos/Canadá).

Both options satisfy the first three criteria, i.e., the names are similar to their English counterpart because they list the three members, they are pronounceable in Spanish and they start with the word "Tratado." It is interesting that the incoming administration chose to hear people's opinion through social media. As to whether these options satisfy the final criterion that was to reflect in spirit an accord between the outgoing and the incoming government, we leave the readers to answer this question and cast their votes. 

Dr. Amrita Bahri is Co-Chairholder at the WTO Chair Program for Mexico & Assistant Professor of Law, ITAM University

Guillermo Moad Valenzuela, Research Assistant, International Trade Law, ITAM University



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