ORLANDO, FL – This continent’s three largest trucking associations will release a joint statement on the value of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on Monday, as they attempt to reinforce the value of a deal that they see as a business driver.
News of the statement by the Canadian Trucking Alliance, Mexico’s CANACAR, and the American Trucking Associations (ATA) was released by Bob Costello, the ATA’s chief economist, during his group’s annual meeting.
“Trucking and trade are synonymous,” he said.
NAFTA negotiations have been extended into 2018 after hitting an impasse on several issues such as the process used to resolve disputes, and a U.S. proposal to include a sunset clause that would require the agreement to be renewed every five years.
Every year, 46,000 U.S. trucking jobs can be linked to trade with the Canada and Mexico, Costello said.
The trade agreement has had an undeniable impact on the trucking industry, with trucks moving 71% of the value of surface trade across the Canada-U.S. border and 82% of the value across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Since the deal was established in 1995, the value of Canada-U.S. surface trade has increased 76%, while U.S.-Mexico surface trade has increased 372%, Costello said. The northern and southern U.S. borders now count 12 million crossings per year. Loredo, Texas accounts for 6,000 crossings per day on its own, making it the largest land port in the U.S.
Between 1994 and 2000, the U.S. manufacturing sector added half a million jobs, he said, challenging the notion that NAFTA killed manufacturing jobs. The reversal came in 2000 after China joined the World Trade Organization. The sector then lost 3.9 million jobs from 2000-07. And Costello doesn’t think that is a coincidence.
Mexico gets a lot of unfair blame in this, he said.
Derek Leathers, president and Chief Executive Officer of Werner Enterprises, said he is hopeful negotiations will continue. There are opportunities to improve, but the goal should be to remodel the house rather than tearing it down, he said, adding that discussions will likely be a “little messy” for a while.
The renegotiations still create opportunities to strike a deal that introduces an integrated customs process, and the chance to modernize empty trailer moves, he said.
“I don’t think we should apologize for looking at the agreement, nor do I believe the agreement should be thrown into the fireplace any time soon,” Leathers predicted.