Trump's big fight with Canada over dairy gets the US only $70 million more than TPP trade deal

  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch tells its clients some of the concessions in the new trade deal with Canada are "mainly symbolic."
  • "The deal includes a small reduction in protectionism for Canada's dairy farmers,” the firm's global economist Ethan Harris says. "Under the new USMCA, American dairy producers will have access to 3.59% of Canada's dairy market — slightly higher than the 3.25% they would have gotten had the US signed the Trans Pacific Partnership [TPP]."
A cow stands at the Lookout dairy farm in North Hatley, Quebec, Canada on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. 
Christinne Muschi | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A cow stands at the Lookout dairy farm in North Hatley, Quebec, Canada on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. 

President Donald Trump's declared victory for U.S. dairy farmers may not be as large as it seems.

On Sunday, the U.S. and Canada reached a deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. The new agreement is named the USMCA — the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Trump said on social media on Monday that the USMCA will "greatly open markets" for American farmers and manufacturers.

But Bank of America Merrill Lynch told its clients some of the concessions in the new deal were "mainly symbolic," including the one Canada made for U.S. dairy farmers.

"The deal includes a small reduction in protectionism for Canada's dairy farmers," Bank of America Merrill Lynch global economist Ethan Harris said in a note to clients Tuesday. "Under the new USMCA, American dairy producers will have access to 3.59% of Canada's dairy market — slightly higher than the 3.25% they would have gotten had the US signed the Trans Pacific Partnership [TPP]."

Harris estimates the change will increase U.S. dairy exports to Canada by $70 million, or 0.0003 percent of GDP, compared to what they would have been under the TPP, from which the U.S. withdrew last year.

The economist also believes the new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada is not a sign the trade conflict with China will improve.

"The completion of the NAFTA deal does not alter our view that the US-China trade 'war' will get worse before it gets better," he said.

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