After more than a year of negotiations to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canada and the United States are at a deadlock — at least for now.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is heading to Washington, yet again, on Wednesday in hopes of drafting an agreement, now that Mexico has already reached a new deal with the U.S.
And two key topics seem to be at the negotiation table.
The U.S. insists that Canada must reduce tariffs on its dairy trade, even though Freeland has stated the government is committed to supply management. Canada also maintains that the dispute resolution mechanism, Chapter 19, must remain in place, something which the Americans oppose.
U.S. Trade Relations Representative Robert Lighthizer has refused to make any changes despite repeated efforts by Freeland to offer concessions to maintain an independent trade dispute mechanism in a revamped trade deal.
WATCH: Freeland does not comment on Trump’s off-the-record NAFTA remarks about Canada
And U.S. President Donald Trump is also digging in his heels. On Saturday, Trump tweeted: “There is no political necessity to keep Canada in the new NAFTA deal. If we don’t make a fair deal for the U.S. after decades of abuse, Canada will be out.”
This comes after the Toronto Star quoted Trump on Friday, saying, in an off-the-record aside during an interview with Bloomberg News, that any deal with Canada would be: “totally on our terms.”
So what if an agreement is not reached? Would Trudeau head to Washington for a one-on-one, high-level meeting with Trump to save the decades-old trade agreement?
Robert Bothwell, a professor of history and international affairs at the University of Toronto, believes it would be political suicide for Trudeau and the Liberal party.
“The meeting would come with a price, and the price would Trudeau surrendering,” he said. “If Trudeau is a fool, he will go.”
Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, agreed with Bothwell, saying the “stakes are too high” for Trudeau to go down and it would never happen.
“It won’t happen. The only way Trudeau is going down there is when they have a deal. Political leaders don’t show up to negotiate,” he said.
Wiseman and Bothwell pointed to the example of the trade negotiation between former prime minister Brian Mulroney and former president Ronald Reagan in October 1987.
WATCH: Trudeau compliments Brian Mulroney’s involvement in NAFTA discussions
When a free-trade pact between Canada and the U.S. looked like it was going to fall apart, Mulroney sent high-level negotiators on his behalf to meet with Reagan, which saved the deal, Bothwell said.
But Mulroney and Reagan had a great relationship — and that was 30 years ago, he added.
“It’s pretty fair to say that Trump hates Trudeau, plus we are dealing with a different U.S. than Mulroney had to deal with,” he said.
If Trudeau were to head to Washington to meet with Trump, Bothwell also believes Trump would not stick with his promise.
“It’s very hard when you’re dealing with someone like Trump, who is a narcissist. … How do you negotiate with someone who isn’t rational?” he said.
But Bothwell said that Canada’s current negotiating tactic seems to be working.
“The Canadian embassy has been working fulltime to try and influence people in Congress, and maybe it’s effective and upsetting Trump. I don’t think we have handled this badly.”
He said that Canada is not in the “worst position” at the moment, as Trump has mid-term elections to deal with. But one way to make the NAFTA negotiation worse would be for Trudeau to go to Washington.
WATCH: What to expect when NAFTA talks to resume
— With files from the Associated Press