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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Freight-rail groups: Don't scrap NAFTA

AAR President and CEO Edward Hamberger
Photo – AAR


Freight-rail industry representatives from the United States, Canada and Mexico are calling for "constructive negotiations" on a new version of the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

In an open letter to policymakers, freight-rail associations from each country stressed the importance of trade and the need for a continental railroad network to provide businesses with access to economic markets.

The letter was signed by Edward Hamberger, president and chief executive officer of the Association of American Railroads (AAR); Gerald Gauthier, vice president of the Railway Association of Canada; and Iker de Luisa Plazas, representing the Asociacion Mexicana de Ferrocarriles.

"Economic growth tied to NAFTA has allowed railways to invest tens of billions of dollars into their infrastructure while improving productivity and customer service, and fostering innovation," states the letter. "Collectively, these improvements have enabled railways to maintain the low rates that are required to provide shippers with access to global supply chains and support their success."

Round six of the NAFTA renegotiations starts today in Canada. No significant changes have been made as a result of the first rounds of negotiations. However, President Donald Trump has continued to repeat his threat that the United States will withdraw from NAFTA if he doesn't like the new agreement.

Although modernizing NAFTA is admirable, it's important for all three countries to remain in the agreement, said AAR's Hamberger in a press release.

"Our members serve customers that touch nearly every sector of the global economy and do so through a complex supply chain spearheaded by railroads," Hamberger said. "This cannot be upended overnight, so we are hopeful that representatives can forge a deal that continues to improve economic outcomes across all countries and North America as a whole."