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article imageMexican president-elect renames new NAFTA, puts Mexico first

By AFP     Oct 16, 2018 in World

When Donald Trump insisted on renaming the updated North American Free Trade Agreement, the "America first" president pointedly listed the US before the other countries, calling it the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

But Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced Tuesday he was putting Mexico first, saying the deal would be known in Spanish as "T-MEC," after conducting a poll of his Twitter followers.

That's short for the "Tratado Mexico-Estados Unidos-Canada" -- which translates as the Mexico-United States-Canada Treaty.

Lopez Obrador, who takes office on December 1, had launched a Twitter poll a week ago to rebrand the deal to "something pronounceable" in Spanish.

He asked his 4.5 million followers to vote between three options: TEUMECA, which put the United States first and got 16 percent of the vote; T-MEC, which put Mexico first and got 45 percent; or "none of the above," which got 39 percent.

More than 102,000 people participated.

The poll "delivered a clear preference for T-MEC," tweeted Lopez Obrador, calling on outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's government to agree on that as "the treaty's colloquial name."

The showdown over the name has pitted Lopez Obrador's often-mocked fondness for putting thorny issues to a vote against Trump's also-mocked fondness for renaming things.

Despite winning Mexico's July 1 election in a landslide, Lopez Obrador has gone out of his way to involve "the people" in his decisions, even before taking office.

He has convened a vote for late October on a controversial new Mexico City airport, and plans to hold a referendum halfway through his six-year term on whether he should remain in office.

Commentators have meanwhile noted Trump's "obsession with renaming things," as CNN's Z. Byron Wolf recently put it.

Trump has reportedly even given Lopez Obrador a new nickname, calling him "Juan Trump" -- an apparent reference to their rough similarities.

Despite the ideological differences between the Republican billionaire and the leftist president-elect, both are free-trade skeptics with populist tendencies who mobilized a disgruntled base.

Canada, Mexico and the United States reached a deal on September 30 to update NAFTA after more than a year of arduous negotiations triggered by Trump, who called the agreement a "rip-off" that cost the US millions of jobs.

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