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The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which goes into effect today, will provide certainty as the economy begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Association of American Railroads (AAR) President and Chief Executive Officer Ian Jefferies said today in a press release.
"As economies reopen, the certainty provided by the USMCA will prove vital to charting a path back to prosperity," Jefferies said.
The USMCA replaces the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which many rail industry leaders saw as rigid and in need of updating. The new, more flexible USMCA will improve rules of origin for automobiles and other vehicles; bolster disciplines on currency manipulation; modernize and strengthen food and agriculture trade; create new protections for U.S. intellectual property; and ensure trade opportunities for U.S. services.
According to an AAR analysis, 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. Additionally, 50,000 rail jobs, worth more than $5.5 billion in annual wages and benefits, depend directly on international trade, AAR officials said.
"The freight-rail industry thanks leaders in all three countries for their tireless work to modernize the trade pact and keep North America moving forward," Jefferies said. "While this hard-fought trade victory is complete, freight railroads continue their work to keep supply chains moving, fuel economic recovery and execute a vision toward the future thanks in part to the USMCA entering into force."
To learn how the rail industry and one Class I in particular — Kansas City Southern — will benefit from the USMCA, read this feature article in Progressive Railroading's June issue.