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Freight stakeholders expressed strong support for the recent agreement reached by congressional Democrats and the Trump White House on a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico, as the U.S. House readies a vote on the deal before the end of the year.
In particular, trucking, freight rail and representatives from the labor and business sectors were among the groups applauding the announcement after months of negotiations on the so-called USMCA agreement.
American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear called it a “historic victory for truck drivers, motor carriers and the entire American economy.”
“The vast majority of trade in North America moves on truck, with $772 billion worth of goods crossing our borders with Mexico and Canada every year. USCMA will provide the certainty our industry needs while ensuring the United States remains competitive on the world stage,” Spear said.
He added, “Truckers and our economy depend on good policymaking, and this bipartisan agreement is a reminder of how government can make our lives and businesses stronger. I thank President [Donald] Trump, Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi, and all who have put disagreements aside to achieve this historic agreement.”
“Trade is a tremendous driver of revenue and creator of jobs in trucking, which is why passing USMCA has been so important to our industry,” added ATA Chairman Randy Guillot, president of New Orleans-based Triple G Express Inc.
Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, added that his group viewed the agreement by policymakers as a “positive step forward to approve the USMCA, which will provide key updates to the landmark North American Free Trade Agreement and promote long-term economic growth.”
Ian Jefferies, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads, noted that Congress should proceed quickly with ratifying the deal before the end of the year.
“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 explained.
Pelosi (D-Calif.) has signaled a strong possibility of scheduling a vote on the deal prior to the end of the year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said his chamber would take it up at the start of next year after the impeachment trial of President Trump. The House is near a vote on impeachment.
“After weeks of pressure from Republicans and from hard-working Americans across the country, Speaker Pelosi backed down yesterday and announced she’ll let the House vote on President Trump’s USMCA,” McConnell said on Dec. 11. “Democrats have stalled this agreement for so long that it is now impossible for the USMCA to become law in 2019 … and assuming that House Democrats send us articles of impeachment next week, a Senate trial will have to be our first item of business in January.”
The deal was signed by the countries last year, and Democrats had raised concerns about Mexico’s new labor laws. In particular, Pelosi had indicated the deal must include enforceability for labor standards. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who was a key player during the monthslong negotiations, endorsed the agreement, remarking there “truly will be enforceable labor standards.”
“The USMCA is far from perfect. It alone is not a solution for outsourcing, inequality or climate change,” Trumka said. “Successfully tackling these issues requires a full-court press of economic policies that empower workers, including the repeal of tax cuts which reward companies for shipping our jobs overseas.”
USMCA is designed to modernize food and agriculture trade, advance rules of origin for automobiles and trucks, and enhance intellectual property protections, among other matters, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
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