Infrastructure and NAFTA on Trump’s agenda

February 6, 2019

Tyson Fisher


On Tuesday, Feb. 6, President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union address. Included in the 90-minute speech relevant to the trucking industry were mentions of infrastructure and a renewed North American Free Trade Agreement. The Democrat response pointed out what is assumed to be lease-purchasing as a problem plaguing the industry.

During the State of the Union address, President Trump called for unity and bipartisanship before laying out upcoming actions he wants to complete. One item of interest to the trucking industry, and the population as a whole, is infrastructure.

“Both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure,” Trump said.

Trump acknowledged that Congress is eager to pass an infrastructure bill. Conversely, the president expressed his eagerness to work with Congress on legislation that will “deliver new and important infrastructure investment.”

“This is not an option,” Trump said. “This is a necessity.”

That was all the president said regarding infrastructure before moving on to healthcare.

During his presidential campaign, Trump said that an infrastructure bill was on his list of items to accomplish within his first 100 days in office. However, many issues ended up taking higher priority, including immigration, which was discussed in length during the State of the Union address.

Trump also mentioned the need to address trade policies that he believes are slowing economic growth.

“To build on our incredible economic success, one priority is paramount – reversing decades of calamitous trade policies,” Trump said.

Among the trade policies to be addressed is the North American Free Trade Agreement. In September, Canada joined an updated NAFTA deal that the U.S. and Mexico had bilaterally agreed on a few weeks prior.

Called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, one provision essentially restricts Mexican carriers to the border commercial zones. USMCA also addresses cabotage.

Although the three countries agreed to the terms of USMCA, all three governments have to pass the agreement through their respective legislatures. The U.S. Congress has not yet reviewed the revamped trade agreement. On Tuesday, Trump urged Congress to approve of the agreement so that all three countries can move forward.

“Our new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, will replace NAFTA and deliver for American workers: bringing back our manufacturing jobs, expanding American agriculture, protecting intellectual property, and ensuring that more cars are proudly stamped with four beautiful words: made in the USA,” Trump said.

Trump called NAFTA a “historic trade blunder” and a “catastrophe.”

During the Democrats’ response to the State of the Union speech, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams briefly touched on an issue within the trucking industry specifically. When stating her case that middle and working class workers are not doing as well as Trump suggests, Abrams brought up truckers as one example.

“We owe more to the millions of everyday folks who keep our economy running: like truck drivers forced to buy their own rigs, farmers caught in a trade war, small business owners in search of capital and domestic workers serving without labor protections.” Abrams said.

Presumably, Abrams was speaking of predatory lease-purchase programs in her remark about truckers.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao issued the following statement regarding the president’s State of the Union address:

“Tonight the President issued a bipartisan call to repair and restore America’s aging infrastructure. Over the last two years, due to the president’s policies, our economy has generated historic levels of economic and job growth for Americans and widespread private sector investment. This success is enabled by America’s transportation sector, but aging and insufficient infrastructure threatens to impede future growth.”