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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Video: U.S.-Canadian Trade

This week, CNN’s Jake Tapper and FactCheck.org look at a claim that President Donald Trump has made more than once this month about U.S.-Canadian trade.

In a March 5 tweet and a March 10 speech, Trump claimed that the U.S. has a “large” deficit with Canada. It doesn’t.

Contrary to Trump’s claim, the U.S. ran a trade surplus of nearly $2.8 billion with Canada last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s how much more in goods and services Americans sold and exported to Canadians than they bought and imported from them. The last time the U.S. ran a trade deficit with Canada was 2014

The White House says that the president, who wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, was referring only to U.S.-Canadian trade in goods — not all trade. Census Bureau figures show that the U.S. has a trade deficit in goods, but an even larger surplus in sales of services, such as travel and intellectual property, resulting in a total trade surplus with Canada. 

It’s worth noting that Canada reported that it had a $26.8 billion surplus in goods and services with the U.S. in 2017. That’s about $19.8 billion in 2017 U.S. dollars. The Census Bureau says such a discrepancy over trade data is not uncommon.

But even if those Canadian numbers are right, and the U.S. does have a trade deficit with Canada, it isn’t “large” as Trump claims. Total trade between the two countries was $680.6 billion in 2017, according to the Census Bureau.

Tapper’s latest video, which is based on our story “Trump’s Canadian Trade Tale,” is part of a collaboration with CNN’s “State of the Union with Jake Tapper.” Past videos can be found on FactCheck.org.