Michael Ducker, president and CEO of FedEx Freight, joined a chorus of logistics and transportation interests calling for President-elect Donald Trump to honor America’s commitment to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and bolster extant trade ties. “Trade agreements are the solution, not the problem,” Ducker told the 2016 JOC Inland Distribution Conference, adding that his company was “100 percent committed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
Ducker pointed out that the United States runs a trade surplus with its 10 largest trading partners. He also noted that those same nations are responsible for 13 times the volume of American exports than the nations that make up the remainder of those same exports. In other words, a trade war with a major trade partner such as China would have real and costly impacts on the U.S. economy and jobs.
While domestic logistics companies might see their trucks navigating fewer potholes if Trump follows through on his trillion-dollar infrastructure investment pledge, deals such as the TPP have never seemed more remote. The deal itself is too politically toxic for the White House or the U.S. Congress to reopen, and so far, Trump hasn’t modified or elaborated on his anti-free-trade since winning the election.
That hasn’t prevented Ducker from digging into his pro-trade position. “This country needs TPP. Our customers will benefit from TPP,” he said. “TPP will eliminate tens of thousands of foreign tariffs added onto American-made products.”
Tucker and other pro-trade campaigners probably don’t have any misconceptions about the fate of the TPP – it’s dead. However, by maintaining the profile of the unpopular trade agreement, they may give President Trump a high-profile kill, which could assuage his voter base and allow him to keep other deals, such as NAFTA, alive. Were the latter to become a casualty of the Trump administration, Ducker said he would find himself presiding over a much smaller company.
For distraught industry bosses, there are signs of hope, or at least of optimism in an industry that is notoriously circumspect. DHL Express announced that it is continuing its investment plan for the U.S. and the Americas to the tune of US$185 million earmarked for 2016 and 2017. The investments will go towards facilities and airport operations.