A new trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada would add $68.2 billion to the U.S. economy and create 176,000 new jobs, according to a study from the International Trade Commission released on Thursday.
While the 0.35 percent growth to GDP and 0.12 percent increase in employment in the first six years after implementation is relatively modest growth, White House officials were more concerned with the actual release of the study, which was a necessary step before Congress can act.
"The model estimates that the agreement would likely have a positive impact on all broad industry sectors within the U.S. economy," the report says. "Manufacturing would experience the largest percentage gains in output, exports, wages, and employment, while in absolute terms, services would experience the largest gains in output and employment."
The so-called United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement would also increase U.S. exports to Canada by 5.9 percent to $19.1 billion, and shipments to Mexico by 6.7 percent to $14.2 billion. Imports from Canada and Mexico would rise by 4.8 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively.
The ITC estimated the deal would create 28,000 new jobs in the auto sector, a much smaller amount than the 76,000 that the Trump administration predicted. The Office of the United States Trade Representative also declared in a report released earlier on Thursday that new automotive provisions would not lead to increased costs on consumers, a claim the panel refuted.
The agreement would "lead to a small increase in the prices and small decrease in the consumption of vehicles in the United States," the report reads.
The analysis from the ITC serves as a launchpad for Congress to now formally examine the trade deal, intended to serve as an update to the North American Free Trade Agreement, and will influence how some members vote on the measure.
In a statement, Sen. Chuck Grassley -- chairman of the Senate Finance panel, which has jurisdiction over trade matters -- said he was "glad to see the report recognized USMCA’s new economic benefits" but noted some advantages and their impact on GDP have been "inherently difficult for economists to measure."
"Many of the significant improvements in USMCA are reducing non-tariff barriers and implementing rules and fair practices that will help U.S. workers, jobs and businesses tremendously over the coming years," the Iowa Republican wrote.
After the release of the study, key industry groups expressed their strong support for the deal.
“The USMCA is a win for manufacturers. This agreement will level the playing field for manufacturers in the United States and support the 2 million American manufacturing jobs that depend on our exports to Canada and Mexico,” said Linda Dempsey, vice president of international economic affairs at the National Association of Manufacturers.