The deal once known as NAFTA could effectively become "HALFTA" assuming the U.S. and Canada don't make any trade negotiation progress over the next three days, according to an analysis of likely outcomes.
There are four "endgame scenarios" in the trilateral talks between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, wrote Chris Krueger, managing director at Cowen Washington Research Group.
None paint a particularly rosy outcome, with the bleakest outlook one that Krueger called "blow it up and make America an island" as President Donald Trump hardens his desire to reduce the swelling U.S. trade deficit.
"There exists the uncomfortable reality of Trump's view of NAFTA and the potential that this all ends in a raging dumpster fire," said Krueger, who titled his note, "Helpless: NAFTA Still HALFTA With AMLO Deadline Looming & 232 Tariffs." Krueger is fond of using musical allusions in his notes, and this one references the song "Helpless" by Canadian folk rocker Neil Young.
"Trump has an instinctive hatred for multilateral deals with a special venom reserved for NAFTA first among all others," he added. "If we take Trump literally and seriously, this is the logical outcome that is hiding in plain sight."
Trump has made it a priority to re-examine the multinational trade deals in which the U.S. has engaged, and has targeted the pact with Canada and Mexico as one of his least favorites. The administration in August announced that it had reached an accord with Mexico across multiple areas and was hoping Canada would come on board as well.
However, there remain deep disagreements about U.S. access to the Canadian dairy market, as well as issues over supply management, steel and aluminum tariffs the White House implemented earlier this year and on autos.