What would a post-NAFTA Canada look like?
Similar concerns were raised before a new treaty, the North American Free Trade Agreement, took effect in 1994. It's a trilateral pact which includes Mexico.
Now, NAFTA is being re-negotiated at the insistence of U.S. President Donald J. Trump, who has threatened to abandon the deal altogether.
Unlike the apprehension that preceded its signing, there are growing concerns in Canada about living without NAFTA.
Gordon Ritchie is a former Canadian ambassador for trade negotiations, and the author of a memoir about his years in public service. It's called Wrestling with the Elephant: The Inside Story of Canada-U.S. Trade Wars.
He says the Americans are engaging in "bush-league tactics, the kind of tactics you'd expect from a low-level real estate developer from Queens."
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, leads Canada's negotiating team.
She says talks haven't yet reached a stalemate, but concedes that the latest round has been the most difficult.
"Where we're running into difficulties," she says, "is in several proposals from the U.S. which Canada is not able to accept, which would degrade NAFTA and fundamentally alter the nature of the agreement."
She agrees with Mr. Ritchie's view that the U.S. has been imposing unfair and punitive tariffs on Canadian industry, notably on softwood lumber and Bombardier planes.
But she argues that NAFTA offers Canada an opportunity to push back on those measures, and says she refuses to give up on the possibility of reaching an agreement.
Freeland says she has no plans to walk away from the negotiating table.
"We believe strongly that we need to take clear and firm positions — always pragmatic, well reasoned and with goodwill."
"I call it saying no with a smile," she says.
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