What is a good name for a trade deal?

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.

Here is the rest of my Bloomberg column on the topic.  And this:

Looking back, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Gatt) had a pretty good name for its time. It conveyed that there was in fact a general agreement, and that branding sold well enough in an earlier, more multilateral era. It might have sounded dull and technocratic, but that was OK for policies which were … dull and technocratic. Much worse, however, was the 1995 relabeling into the World Trade Organization, a name which to many people sounds globalist, faceless and sinister. They might as well have called it SPECTRE, the name of the criminal group in many James Bond novels and films.

I even quote a Canadian quoting Shakespeare…

Comments

Not The Onion.

These days The Onion seems like fact, as does the National Enquirer, which actually is a good source of celebrity gossip I've heard. Bat-boy!

Bonus trivia: a possibly rabid fruit bat, oozing puss, feel out of a tree, almost hit me on the head, and we simply buried it alive. Who wants to touch such a creature? I even sprayed the shovel with chlorine afterwards. Recall Ebola virus came from fruit bats, another reason not to even touch it. Did not faze me btw, living in the tropics makes you tougher. That which does not kill you...

Oooh I like that. The NTO-FTA. Not The Onion Free Trade Agreement.

The Great North American Cuck Agreement sounds about right to me. Our continent's top cucks signed an agreement that is 99% NAFTA.

I'm just glad they dropped "free trade agreement." It's not. It's a trade restriction agreement. I guess it's kind of like our next president's tax refund adjustment.

It's not a trade restriction agreement. it's an agreement to not restrict trade AS MUCH as they otherwise would if there weren't an agreement.

This is one of the most ridiculous, idiotic arguments made by Trumpists. "OMG, trade agreements don't completely eliminate 100% of all tarriffs on both sides of the border! Therefore, they're actually restricting trade!"
This is like saying that if I lose 30 lb, I'm actually gaining weight because I'm still above my ideal weight. So I shouldn't lose weight, because losing weight is the same as getting fatter.

It's such a patently absurd and brazenly disingenous argument that it pains me to have to bother responding to it.

"This is one of the most ridiculous, idiotic arguments made by Trumpists."
You ever bang your knee on your desk when you jerk it like that Hazel?
Whether it's an agreement to restrict trade more or less, it's still an agreement on restricting trade. Free trade doesn't require an agreement. Are you following me so far?
Yes, fewer restrictions are better. But there are still restrictions. So again, not "free" trade.
"It's such a patently absurd and brazenly disingenous argument that it pains me to have to bother responding to it."
Guess what, Hazel? You don't have to bother responding. Believe it or not, nobody is waiting around for your "brilliant" comments. Especially when you completely miss the other person's point.

Wow, so easily triggered! Need a few minutes in your safe space?

Wow. Clever. You must crack up all your friends.

Is your job title "snowflake" or just cuck? Its fun to trigger incels like you who don't know how to internet.

Free trade doesn't require an agreement.

It does if that's the only way to get governments into a commitment that overrides the domestic interests which favor unfree trade. Which is what trade agreements do.

In a theoretical universe where politicians just do the right thing public choice theory wouldn't need to exist and Congress would just unilaterally drop all trade restrictions. But in the real universe that we live in, there are some intractable problems, such as the concentrated benefits and distributed costs of tarriffs, which lead to some extremely strong incentives for governments to impose tarriffs and for domestic industry to "rent seek" to obtain them. Free trade agreements help overcome that problem by harnessing other domestic industries' interests in accessing foreign markets and harnessing similar interests in the foreign nation to bind both nations into a mutual reduction of tarriffs. In other words, you're turning the rent-seeking interest of importing industries into a weapon against the rent-seeking interests of exporting industries to reach a more globally optimal state.

If you have some magic wand you can wave to make the government unilaterally drop all tarriffs, I would love to know about it. It sure as fuck isn't voting for Donald Trump, whose ideal state is probably no imports whatsoever. And surely you aren't stupid enough to think that in the absence of NAFTA tarriff rates would drop to zero, are you ?

I should correct that, it's using the rent seeking interests exporting industries that want to access foreign markets as a weapon against the rent-seeking interests of those that want protection from foreign competitors. Although importing industries are probably also a player, so close enough.

OK, Hazel, I'm going to try to explain this to you again. Maybe you can stop arguing with yourself for long enough to understand.
My point is about, as Jeff R says, "branding." I fully understand what these trade pacts are for and at no point did I endorse any stance for or against them. The title of the post is "What is a good name for a true deal?" That is what I was commenting on.
if you want to continue beating the stuffing out of that straw man, feel free.

I think a good name for a free trade agreement is a "free trade" agreement. if you don't agree with the Trumpian argument that free trade agreements are bad because they aren't completely unrestricted trade, then stop coddling them by pretending you think that.

Some people are like "These people are part of my tribe, so I have to make nice with them", and other people are like "I don't want those idiots in my tribe anymore. They can just fuck off right now."
You should try putting the latter hat on sometime, you might find it's a more comfortable fit.

You know what you should try sometime? Understanding somebody's point rather than trying to put words in their mouth. You think"free trade agreement" is a good name. Fine. I don't and I have said why. We can disagree. But spare me your accusations and name-calling.

Ok. I apologize. You pushed a button.

My hatred of protectionists is rivaled only by my hatred of anti-GMOers.

Incidentally, that felt good. I haven't got my hate on like that for weeks. it was invigorating.

Always glad to be of help.

Maybe trade de-regulation, then?

As I understand it, they're more like Regulatory Convergence Agreements that harmonize regulation, and so lower both barriers to trade (pro) and economic degree of freedom (con?) for states involved, and increase total level of regulation (and so present barriers to trade with third country).

Agreements that purely eliminate tariffs can be called Free Trade Agreements in the sense that classical economists would understand Free Trade. Agreements that purely affect restrictions on imports and exports without imposing shared regulation and law in states involved.

While NAFTA does decrease barriers to trade, but in a manner to which perhaps not a bad comparison would be the Garibaldi's unification of small Italian states into a larger "Italy" which was centrally bureaucratized and ultimately more regulated, with more internally standardized laws and regulation. And so in larger scales - ultimately trade will increase to its largest extent under a universal empire with homogenous law (so those who take free trade uber alles inevitably become advocates for imperialism of a sort).

We're talkin' branding here, guy. De-regulation is a red tribe issue/goal/positive-buzzword. If you want to get red tribers' support for some kind of trade deal, couch it in language they'll find appealing or have a positive association with.

The total level of regulation doesn't necessarily increase. If you have a law that say "You can't sell milk products in Canada", and "you go to a state that says "You can sell milk products, under X,Y,Z conditions", is that really an increase in regulation? being allowed to sell something under a bunch of arcane rules is better than not being allowed to sell it at all.
And may I add that Trump fought for MORE such regulatory aspects, not fewer. We actually have a more tightly regulated trade environment now because of Trump's intervention. So it's not like the Trumpetarians absurd declaration that trade agreements are bad because they have regulations in them is some sort of policy guide that Trump is following to reach a more optimal state. First he wanted to go back to no NAFTA at all, which means the US would revert to the high tarriffs of the last century, and then he settled for just making NAFTA slightly worse in certain ways.

IMO, the saving grave of the whole thing is that at least it will make it easier for me to buy Christmas presents over the internet for my relatives in Canada.

It's not a logical necessity no. My understanding is in the general case, it tends to happen. But unless total regulation reliably goes down (and it doesn't), you can't really call them Trade Deregulation agreements.

I think your example re: milk products tends to be off because the regulation doesn't just echo into producing for Canada but back into the processes for producing for the American market. Either de jure because it has to be written into American regulation to allow the treaty to happen, or de facto because the most efficient producers won't run too separate production lines. It means more "arcane regulations" on Americans selling to Americans, not just Americans selling to Canada.

Enshrining regulation into treaties or into bodies which are supranational and governed by treaties also makes them less amenable to domestic national political pressure, and so deregulation or increased regulation possibly harder to achieve in a way that serves national interests.

I'm not so interested in the specific case of the deal Trump made, to defend or decry, so all comments were really discussing "free trade deals" in the general case, and what they really and really mean.

"Other people may confuse USMCA with USCMA, or the United States Catholic Mission Association, another positive connotation."
Yes, we will be trading Episcopalean priests for Catholic nums with Mexico. Maybe some people are just too stupid to think productively about trade policy.

“Of course the Marines have nothing to do with international trade . . .”

I thought they were created in response to threats to international trade. (?)

Yep. There's a Bashaw in Tripoli circa early 19th century that has something to say in that regard.

And historically a few American fruit companies would tend to disagree with that statement.

See: "War is a Racket" by General Smedley Butler

Marines were originally created to fight on board ships -- ever notice the top of a marine officers cap it has a rope embedded so the snipers up in rigging could see who they were and not kill their own officers.

But pre-WWII you are completely correct that the USMC has a hell of a lot to do with international trade, especially in Central America

General Smedley Butler was a Marine. He got two Congressional Medals of Honor. The Marines he knew had everything to do with international trade:

"I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer; a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902–1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents."

Maybe we should sell Latin America to communism as we sold China.

Speak for yourself, blackguard! Latin America will never bosw to the Red CHinese! Brazil is fated to lead the world to paradise, as the Prophet Bandarra has written.

Are we pronouncing it "Uzmika"? Nobody is going to recite the initial letters of the name.

The sad reality is that voters do not love the idea of free trade once it is made concrete to them.
If it was, indeed, actually being made concrete to them they'd have no objection. Sadly, we have a public education system that promotes economic mythology and it endures in much of the media.

Nobody needs the government telling them what they can buy and how much they'll have to pay for it, basically the antithesis of freedom.

> Are we pronouncing it "Uzmika"? Nobody is going to recite the initial letters of the name.

I think part of the point Tyler is making about why it's good, is that it's not very pronounceable nor memorable.

In other words, it will cost a little bit of effort to talk about it.

"Repeal Nafta" has a ring to it. This maybe less so.

I'd pronounce it "U.S. - M.C.A." by the way, which leans into Tyler's idea that this deal sounds much more America First.

I agree with you on the education front. I'd love to just hit everyone in the head with a magical "Free-er trade is better trade" hammer if I could.

"When I see USMCA, I also think of “United States Marine Corps”. Exactly what I thought. Maybe MUSCA? Or does that sound too Russian?

> If only every trade agreement could have a name as short, sweet and popular as, say, Social Security

Ew gross

>both Barack Obama and Trump campaigned against Nafta

Oh, you deranged man.

One of the most hilarious things about the last few months is that the Trump Economy has been doing so unbelievably well that Barack Obama even pried himself away from a mirror long enough to try to claim credit for it.

And now -- now that Trump has finally beaten NAFTA to death with a crowbar, against all odds and in the face of spittling rage from everyone on the left, it's time for Obama sycophants to claim that Barry campaigned on doing the very same thing.

What's next? Hillary always said that The Wall was a great idea?

Beaten to death? More like bought a new suit and spiffed it up with a new name.

What's next has already happened. Reps love deficits even more than Dems do now.

The Trump Economy is funded by deficits larger than Trump's own ego. Today's fake prosperity is like burger flippers buying Teslas. Look rich today but be a debt slave forever tomorrow.

TPM,

You do understand that aside from the steel and aluminum and dairy and pharma industries this new deal is bad for the US economy? Most of what is arguably good in it (and some of the not so good) is in it is in the TPP, which Obama negotiated but Hillary along with Trump ran against.

Oh, and most of the good economy today is largely an extension of the Obama improving economy. Trump's trade wars and agreements endanger that, but have so far not yet derailed it.

I'm a fan of good old Barry O, but 'twas gridlock what delivered prosperity.

That and simply the time it takes for cycles to occur.

Prior to the original EU (then EC) membership referendum in 1975, we were assured that it was a conspiracy to suggest that the EC was anything more than a trade agreement, or that it had ambitions as a supranational government.

Obviously, there isn't a parallel to NAFTA. The supranational ambitions were on record in the treaties and in leading politicians public addresses. It was a lie to say they weren't. But I'm just saying, I have sympathy for those that feel that way.

Oh, well. You are joining NAFTA soon enough. Try the chicken.

why not name it NAFTA for North American Faintly Trumpizized Agreement?

Thread winner, we are done here.

OBAMACA = Outwitted By A Mexican and Canadian Agreement
Trump will love that one.

They changed it to something unpronounceable, but they missed the symbol part.

Let's see, what does TTAFKANAFTA sound like?

Re: TPP. The tribe of transformational change, being transgressive, transgenderism, etc. rather likes "trans" these days and it allows them to distinguish themselves from the tribe of deplorables.

It's not very hard to distinguish oneself from the deplorables.

Mexico - United States - Canada Agreement.

MUSCA.

With a redefinition of all North American commerce as "domestic."

What would a good name be for the GMU Economics Department? The best I have heard so far is the The Michael Bloomberg Center for the Advancement of Chinese Mercantilism.

President T. has been a real treat to watch now that I think about it. He is not the anti-technocrat at first he seems... He seems to very much like certain experts, e.g. the generals (military technocrats), and is willing to delegate quite a lot of authority once a grand objective has been established. Rather we should not respect the technocrats too much---an anti-high-status-technocrat.

Technocrats should be learning a lot from him. I percieve many of them as having the view that, things that "shouldn't matter" "don't matter." This is quite wrong.

His objectives mostly suck though and he's failed to accomplish most of them. Meanwhile tariffs are hurting middle class, tax cuts went to the rich, healthcare premiums are up, gas prices are up, and deficit spending is at all time highs. People don't care about who's a technocrat or not, they care when their pocketbooks are hit.

Would the Republicans in Congress today greet the executives from Apple as heroes as they did the last time the executives testified in Congress about the way Apple combined its profits from its manufacturing operations in China with creative ways to deflect income to tax havens to avoid U.S. tax? For Apple, it really is "free" trade.

We should just market every agreement as a "Freedom Agreement".

It is not clear that the new name will stick, and the five syllables involved may be the problem, along with it looking like a lot of other things (US Motorcyle Association). I am seeing a lot of news stories calling it "NAFTA 2.0." People know what that is, and given how much of what is in it is just the old NAFTA, despite Trump loudly lying otherwise, that may stick. It may officially be USMCA, but then Sixth Avenue in New York is officially the Avenue of the Americas, although I do not know if I have ever heard anybody who actually lives there call it that, despite it officially being that for many decades. indeed, I have recently seen some signs on it that show both names, obviously a recognition that the newer name never really took.

Looks highly likely that "NAFTA 2.0" may be what it gets generally called. We shall see.

PPACA was called Obamacare so maybe USMCA will be called TrumpTA?

MAGA -Mexican (Canadian) American GATT Agreement?

US Mitigates China Ascension

US Manufacturing Completely Abolished

US Mortgaged (to) Canada Alaska

US Men Cucked Again

US Monster Cuckie Aliance

Devil's Triangle.

The argument would surely have been clinched with a reference to the Britishism "naff".

NATTA - North American Tariffs and Trade Agreement

You may have missed something if you deem the Catholic Mission Association a "positive connotation".

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