President Trump has made it a priority to pry open Canada’s managed dairy market in order to boost U.S. exports of milk, eggs, butter, cheese, and other products north across the border. In response, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to protect the Canadian dairy industry, although he has indicated some willingness to open a small portion of the market to U.S. exporters.

Canada maintains a “supply management” system for its dairy industry. The government sets milk prices and controls supply via domestic production quotas. Canada also maintains quotas on dairy imports and hits products imported beyond those tariffs with tariffs above 200 percent. Together, these policies result in protection for Canada’s domestic dairy producers that have drawn the ire of President Trump, dairy exporters, and lawmakers from top dairy producing states. Canadian dairy producers worry that the dismantling of the supply management system, such as through concessions made to secure a new NAFTA deal, could threaten their livelihood. That concern has made dairy among the most sensitive issues for Canada in trade negotiations. The United States also provides some protection and support to its dairy farmers, although to a lesser extent than Canada.

But how much of Canada’s dairy imports does the United States already account for? And, in turn, what level of import market share in the United States has Canada been able to carve out for itself?

U.S. - Canada Dairy Trade
U.S. - Canada Dairy Trade U.S. - Canada Dairy Trade

According to data from the U.S. Commerce Department, the United States imported just under $200 million worth of dairy from Canada in 2017 and exported about $360 million worth of dairy to Canada.

U.S. - Canada Dairy Trade, 2017, millions of USD
Imports from U.S. Imports from Canada Total Imports
Canada 358.923 0 618.579
U.S. 0 196.643 2509.140
Data: U.S. Commerce Department; Statistics Canada. Data accounts for HS04

From an import market share perspective, the United States accounted for 58 percent of Canada’s total dairy imports in 2017 by value while Canadian dairy products made up just 7.8 percent of total U.S. dairy imports, according to data from the Commerce Department and Statistics Canada.

U.S.-Canada Dairy Trade Compared to Overall Dairy Imports
U.S. Share of Canada's Dairy Imports 58%
Canada's Share of U.S. Dairy Imports 7.8%
Data: U.S. Commerce Department; Statistics Canada. Data accounts for HS04