If there had been any doubt that we’ve entered a new political era, it was erased by President Donald Trump during his first week in office.
Even before all of his cabinet nominations had been approved by the Senate, he led the way in getting off to a quick start by fulfilling several of his campaign promises.
In matters of interest to those who work in the field of logistics perhaps his most consequential moves were withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, and his opening moves in renegotiating the terms of the NAFTA treaty with Mexico and Canada.
Although popular with the national labor leaders he invited to a meet with him at the White House, others believe the TPP withdrawal was a mistake.
Negotiated by the Obama administration with 11 U.S. trading partners on both sides of the Pacific, the TPP would have included six countries that already have free-trade treaties with the U.S. –
Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Australia and Singapore. The TPP also would have added five new partners to that list – New Zealand, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Japan.
If it had been ratified, TPP would have eliminated 18,000 tariffs imposed on U.S. exports to other TPP countries. Almost 90% of those tariffs would have gone to zero, and nearly all would have been eliminated within 16 years.
U.S. duties would also be phased out almost completely, with the steepest reductions on imported apparel and footwear, delivering benefits directly to low-income U.S. households.
Major union leaders were the happiest they have ever been with a Republican president. Teamsters General President James Hoffa commented, “With this decision, the President has taken the first step toward fixing 30 years of bad trade policies that have cost working Americans millions of good-paying jobs.”
Trump also announced he had scheduled his first meetings since becoming President with the leaders of Mexico and Canada to begin his promised renegotiation of the NAFTA agreement.
Bold Moves on Energy
The President also acted swiftly increase the flow of energy by approving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. He also placed a freeze on all grants and contracts from the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Environmentalism is out of control,” he declared to top executives from American car manufacturers when he met with them on Jan. 23.
Myron Ebell, who was the leader of Trump’s EPA transition team, observed, “They’re trying to freeze things to make sure nothing happens they don’t want to have happen, so any regulations going forward, contracts, grants, hires, they want to make sure to look at them first.”
Although Trump has yet to put forward an overarching proposal to fulfill his infrastructure promises, he signed an executive order expediting environmental reviews and approvals to fast track roadway and bridge projects.
Three days before the inaugural Vice President Mike Pence told the U.S. Conference of Mayors Trump had asked him to pass on that his Administration will create an impressive infrastructure program. “It’s going to be big,” the President told Pence.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao also said that “the president’s vision for an infrastructure proposal is ambitious and futuristic and comprehensive.”
Other than some favorable mentions of public private partnerships, Trump has been short on details about how his $1 trillion program will be funded, other than suggesting a combination of tolls and tax breaks.
Trump’s staff has put together a list of 50 infrastructure projects nationwide which were suggested by the states themselves, totaling an initial investment of at least $137.5 billion.
However, many of the undertakings included on that list which was leaked to the news media are mass transit and non-transportation projects.
Transportation projects include the Gordie Howe and Peace Bridges between the U.S. and Canada; I-95 repairs in Florida, North Carolina and Philadelphia; Brent Spence Bridge on I-75 between Kentucky and Ohio; Newark, NJ, and Savannah, GA; port projects; I-93 in New Hampshire; the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana, along with several inland waterways lock and dam repairs.
The list also includes a number of airport improvement plans, pipeline, water treatment and electrical system projects — and no fewer than 10 mass transit and passenger rail proposals.
One infrastructure project we can be sure the President is fully committed to is the border wall with Mexico. Only two days into his Administration he signed an order to get that project underway.