February 16, 2017 3:40 PM, EST

Freight Executives Urge Caution on Trade

Sam Hodgson/Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON — A disruption of trade agreements with Mexico has the potential of hindering the country’s flow of products with its southern neighbor, freight executives told a Senate panel Feb. 15.

Christopher Lofgren, president and CEO of Schneider, and Matthew Rose, executive chairman of BNSF Railway Co., cautioned against engaging in antagonistic trade disputes with Mexico, responding to Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), who said he shared a similar view.

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“Clearly, we have significant operations that move freight both into Mexico and out of Mexico, and clearly, these kinds of issues are not going to be helpful to our business in terms of reducing the flow of goods,” Lofgren told the Senate Commerce subcommittee on surface transportation. “There’s no doubt that, if the path that we’re on here continues, we’ll see reductions in the amount of business that we’re going to conduct between the U.S. and Mexico.”

The trucking firm has customers with manufacturing facilities in Mexico that bring or build component parts that require assembly in the United States, Lofgren explained. Schneider ranks No. 7 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.

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After pressed by Udall, Rose stressed: “We don’t need trade wars.”

Several freight companies, from UPS Inc. to FedEx Corp., have shared concerns about the economic effects a do-over of the North American Free Trade Agreement could have. Nafta is a Clinton-era accord negotiated by Canada, Mexico and the United States. UPS ranks No. 1 and FedEx ranks No. 2 on the for-hire TT100.