October 8, 2018

RENAME THEM ALL AND CONFUSE THE WINGS:

Renaming Nafta Just Might Work: Will the USMCA be any more popular than Nafta? It's worth finding out. ( Tyler Cowen, October 4, 2018, Bloomberg)

When I see USMCA, I also think of "United States Marine Corps," a connection Donald Trump himself has noted. Of course the Marines have nothing to do with international trade policy, but given the public's longstanding confidence in the military, the association is unlikely to hurt politically. Other people may confuse USMCA with USCMA, or the United States Catholic Mission Association, another positive connotation.

This next point may sound slightly cynical, but here goes: Perhaps being so easy to say and remember has been part of Nafta's problem. The sad reality is that voters do not love the idea of free trade once it is made concrete to them, and both Barack Obama and Trump campaigned against Nafta in its current form. So maybe every time people heard the name Nafta, they were reminded of how much they disliked it.

I recall, more than a decade ago, hearing talk of a supposed "Nafta superhighway," a series of roads that would supposedly bring the three Nafta countries under some kind of joint, conspiratorial rule, enforced by the movement of vehicles on these connector roads and sometimes in league with Satan himself. The alternative phrase -- "USMCA Superhighway" -- doesn't roll off the tongue as easily, so maybe it will be harder to drum up fake news about the new deal.

There is yet another advantage to the new name: Many politicians, especially Democrats, are on record as opposing Nafta. The change of name gives them a chance to rebrand their opinions, even if they do not wish to do so right now when Trump is touting his victory.

Posted by at October 8, 2018 6:45 PM

  

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