Trading acronyms: Have your say on what to call the new NAFTA

The Canadian government's website refers to the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, or CUSMA, an acronym that would reorder the initials that favoured the America-first attitude of U.S. President Donald Trump. What do you think?

CUSMA? USMCA? Or something completely different? Jump in on our poll

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump pass the document as Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland looks on Friday in Buenos Aires. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

There's New York, New York, the proverbial "city so nice they named it twice," but it's debatable whether the trade deal that Canada, Mexico and the United States signed Friday at the G20 summit will earn similar repetition.

The updated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has for the past nine weeks generally been referred to as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement​, or USMCA.

But at the joint signing ceremony on Friday in Buenos Aires, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau referred to it as "the new NAFTA," with the Canadian government's website displaying the table of contents for the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) — no "trade," and mind the hyphens.

Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland gave a hint of what might come on Nov. 21, as pointed out by Katie Simpson of CBC News.

But even Freeland apparently underwent an evolution.

"We do have to call it USMCA, that is what it is," she told CBC Toronto's Metro Morning on Oct. 2 after the deal was agreed to in principle. "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

The American-favoured name caused some puzzlement in the U.S. when it was first unveiled on Oct. 1.

Trump declared in a 5 a.m. tweet the "new name will be The United States Mexico Canada Agreement, or USMCA."

It didn't take long before it was noticed that it added an A to 'USMC,' the United States Marine Corps.

Trump heralded it, but old habits die hard, and United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer referred to the deal as NAFTA later that day.

Trump soon offered a helpful mnenomic device, telling audiences at some Republican campaign rally appearances ahead of the midterm elections to just think of the Village People's Y.M.C.A.

The U.S. president, in bombastic style on Friday, called it "groundbreaking" and debatably "the largest, most significant and balanced trade agreement in history." The approach and times were different in 1988, when then-president Ronald Reagan ratified the original free trade agreement with Canada alone, at his winter home in Florida.

A "North America free trade agreement" was often referred to in coverage in both Canada and the U.S. well ahead of the October 1992 ceremony in San Antonio, Texas, in which Mexico signed on.

CBC News will generally use CUSMA

Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto did refer to the deal Friday by USMCA. But cynics might question his level of investment in the semantics of it all, what with his successor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador set to be inaugurated on Saturday.

Pena Nieto was also probably not in a mood to rock the boat with his larger neighbour, given that later in the day he honoured Trump's embattled son-in-law adviser Jared Kushner with the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle.

Trump displays the newly signed agreement in Buenos Aires, with his singular signature in the middle. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

CBC News has decided that CUSMA will generally appear in headlines and first references in stories. Where applicable, or if needed for context, it will be pointed out that the U.S. refers to the agreement as USMCA.

It's the nomenclature the Canadian government will apparently be using in discussing the deal, it's an actual, pronounceable acronym — two syllables instead of five — and, again, a generally accepted name hasn't been settled on by all three countries as NAFTA was after the tripartite agreement a quarter-century ago.

For the record, the document's preamble refers to an "Agreement between the United States of America, the United Mexican States and Canada."

Have your say in the quiz and comments below. What do you think the deal should be called?


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