Is a NAFTA deal doable: The litmus test is coming over next few days

A litmus test approaches on one of the biggest questions looming over Canadian politics, economics, and international affairs: Can a new NAFTA deal be achieved?

The next few days could make the answer clearer.

Canada says it intends to extend some olive branches at the current NAFTA round in Montreal; it will suggest reforms to rules for autos and to the Chapter 11 dispute-resolution system between now and Friday.

The big unknown at this round is how the U.S will respond, by engaging on these new suggestions and opening up a real negotiation, or by shooting them down and leaving both sides entrenched in distant positions instead of bargaining.

Insiders view this round as instrumental, there are just two rounds left before the current schedule of talks runs out in March, at which point U.S. President Donald Trump faces a dilemma on what to do with NAFTA.

Trump has suggested he could start cancelling NAFTA to get a better deal or pause, or slow down, the talks during the Mexican election, followed by the U.S. midterms later this year.