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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

AAR, truckers laud North American trade deal

AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies
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Association of American Railroads (AAR) President and Chief Executive Officer Ian Jefferies yesterday praised the announced deal on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that could clear the way for congressional approval in the near future.

Yesterday, House Democrats and President Trump announced they'd reached an agreement to revise a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada. If approved by Congress, the USMCA would replace the former North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The AAR and other transportation industry organizations have called on Congress and the Trump administration to agree on a revised North American trade pact.

International trade accounts for 42 percent of U.S. freight railroads' carloads and intermodal units, and more than 35 percent of rail revenue is directly associated with international trade, according to an AAR. Additionally, 50,000 rail jobs — worth more than $5.5 billion in annual wages and benefits — depend directly on international trade, AAR officials said.

"As the backbone of the North American supply chain, freight railroads applaud [yesterday's] announcement, which provides much-needed certainty with our two largest trading partners,” said AAR's Jefferies in a press release.

"With renewed trade ties, freight railroads stand ready to deliver for rail customers throughout North America and move the goods that allow the U.S. economy to grow and compete in global markets," Jefferies added.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) also hailed the agreement, calling it an "historic victory for truck drivers."

"The vast majority of trade in North American moves on truck, with $772 billion worth of goods crossing our borders with Mexico and Canada every year," said ATA President Chris Spear in a press release. "USCMA will provide the certainty our industry needs while ensuring the United States remains competitive on the world stage.”  

AAR's Jefferies called on Congress to ratify the agreement before the end of the year. However, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Capitol Hill reporters yesterday that the Senate would not take up the agreement until after President Trump's impeachment trial is completed.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/11/2019