American railways support NAFTA

Another U.S. industry is standing up for the North American Free Trade Agreement – America’s railways.

In an op-ed published this morning, the Association of American Railroads argued that abandoning NAFTA would be a mistake and that Canada, Mexico and the United States should be looking for ways to improve the trade deal.

“The conversation we need to be having is how do we enhance the NAFTA trading bloc’s capability of competing globally and specifically America’s ability to compete globally,” said Union Pacific chief executive officer Lance Fritz, who was quoted in the opinion piece.

The Association of Railroads released the op-ed before the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention, which will be held Jan. 5-11 in Nashville.

President Donald Trump is scheduled to appear at the event. It’s expected that farmers and producer groups will remind him of the importance of NAFTA to U.S. agriculture.

Trump has threatened to pull the U.S. out of NAFTA, repeatedly describing it as the worst trade deal in history.

Since August, representatives of Mexico, Canada and U.S. have held five rounds of negotiations to modernize NAFTA, but the discussions have been difficult.

A number of trade watchers are concerned the U.S. is on track to terminate NAFTA. American negotiators have put forward proposals that are untenable for Canada and Mexico, such as changing rules of origin around automobile manufacturing so that half of all content comes from the U.S. and introducing a “sunset clause” in which the deal could be re-negotiated every five years.

The railroad association, like many other business groups, said the sunset clause would only cause business uncertainty.

American ag groups have loudly voiced their support for NAFTA over the last few months. Commodity groups and farm organizations have issued hundreds of news releases detailing the economic benefits to U.S. farmers. In November, 168 agri-food groups and Fortune 500 companies such as CHS and Cargill sent a letter to every U.S. governor, reminding state politicians of the importance of NAFTA and the consequences of U.S. withdrawal.

Edward Hamberger, president of the railroad association and author of the op-ed, said the agricultural and railway industries are deeply connected.

“I often see a line of tank cars moving raw goods for input into chemical manufacturing,” Hamberger wrote.

“These trains are going from Canada to Florida, where their contents will help create agricultural fertilizers. Those materials will then move by railroads to the U.S. heartland, helping America’s farmers generate yields.”

Hamberger also cited economic evidence on the value of NAFTA for the railway industry:

• Railroads moved 15.3 million tons of fertilizers and ag chemicals in 2016, much of it across borders.

• Forty-two percent of rail car loads and intermodal units and about 50,000 U.S. jobs are directly association with international trade.

“Less trade means less jobs and less revenues for a host of industries, which means less investment to serve customers and a weakened U.S. economy, Hamberger said.

“The railroad industry stands united with the continued efforts of agriculture advocates to preserve the benefits of NAFTA.”

Contact robert.arnason@producer.com

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Comments

  • Monkeeworks

    Every large company is out for the best profit, not what is best.

    • Harold

      You are right. They inherently could not give a damn about our sovereignty or our Canadian jobs and the fact that they supporting NAFTA is very telling. Normally you would see the finished contract before you would ever support it or sign it and Clearly NAFTA has been very good to them and not so good to Canada. Is our rail in good order? Without the NAFTA agreement, would Bill Gates the major foreign share holder ever have bought the shares? The NAFTA is a foreign investor takeover of Canadian owned resources and the title of trade is the tool for them to do so. The agreement is not what we think it is and Trump was the quickest to point that out. If Trump had not been in power the Agreement would have been signed by Canada without so much as a peep and that too is very telling of our own Government and their non commitment to us the Canadian people. With the opening of NAFTA our government could not see a means to sweeten our deal and then stand by it?. Did any of our Canadian Politicians talk like Trump about getting a better deal – before the expiry date of the Agreement? Very telling. Our government were not first to be forward in that regard but are very quiet and only reactive aren’t they? With Bill Gates the major share holder, our Government has nothing to be forward about and that is the doom of the foreign investor takeover of our Canadian owned Industry and resources and why our Government is silent and can only be reactive; they have no leverage so they bend over per say. NAFTA is not a Canadian investment and is amongst Canadians the most unheard of deal in its details; the detail most know is only the Title and they are fighting to retain the title without the knowledge of the contract details within. I call it the Canadian mushroom syndrome; kept in the dark and fed plenty of Government and Media BS and believing it.

  • Jeffrey_Aiken

    Well said. However, railroad and NAFTA related issues are missing from much of the historic dialogue. My check of NAFTA issues on Wikipedia shows it’s poor performance is due to lack of concentration on railroad routings across key border states. Upgrades to the regional railroad infrastructure along the U.S. and Mexico has not kept up with the times. According to Wiki, Mexico abandoned interest in railroads North of Mexico City in the 1990s; while colonial lines exist into Arizona and California, there are no links in these states that reach deep into Mexico’s interior to take advantage of their new, deep-water ports. These ports developed following the West Coast Port Shutdown affecting trade flowing to Californian ports of Los Angeles / Long Beach and North to Canada. The logistics infrastructure improvements in the U.S. and Mexico have been related to grade improvements, some new roads, and new railroad border crossings in Texas and New Mexico. There is no railroad service carrying passengers between Mexico and the U.S. Though, there is a freight train known as ‘La Bestia’ that carries immigrants north to the U.S. Today, there are no plans for making improvements to railroad infrastructure with bridges, mainline tracks, switches, signaling, sidings, or any indication trucking in Mexico will increase use of ‘intermodal’ utilizing containers and sea-truck-rail connections, thus helping reduce wear-and-tear on surface roads; theirs and ours. There are plans for walls. Mexico shows no indication they are interested in improving their tunnels and upgrading their border colonial distribution system linking small towns with their gleaming new ports. The only news related to tunnels and railroad track on the border are drug-related, short distances, and below the surface.

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