Thursday, June 15, 2017

AAR pushes to preserve North American trading relationships

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AAR research released in March found 329 million tons of export products were moved by freight rail in 2014. AAR research released in March found 329 million tons of export products were moved by freight rail in 2014. AAR

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) filed comments with the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on June 12, detailing the importance of preserving North American trade relationships to freight railroads.

One of the Trump Administration's goals is a foreign policy focused on what it calls "America First." This includes the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The administration believes "fair but tough" trade deals will promote job and wage growth.

Edward R. Hamberger, president and CEO of AAR, reiterated the connection freight railroads share with international trade.

"Rail traffic engaged in international trade involves nearly every type of commodity and provides over one-third of our members' annual revenues. These revenues support approximately 50,000 domestic jobs in the railroad industry, accounting for more than $5.5 billion in annual wages and benefits. Moving imports and exports to and from Canada and Mexico represents a substantial share of the industry's international rail traffic," Hamberger wrote in his comment letter.

In March, AAR released as assessment that found trade directly supports at least 50,000 U.S. rail jobs, 35 percent of rail revenues and 42 percent of carloads and intermodal units. The report was included with the AAR's comments to USTR. 

"Without freight railroads, American industry and consumers could not participate in the global economy anywhere near as fully as they do today. Limiting trade might save some jobs, but it also prevents other jobs — and the huge productivity and quality of life advancements they could entail," the AAR wrote in the assessment report.

"As the administration moves forward with any renegotiation of the NAFTA agreement, we urge that the many benefits of the U.S. trading relationship with Canada and Mexico be preserved," concluded Hamberger.

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