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Jan.9, 2017

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32 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE JANUARY 9.2017 GOVERNMENT 2017 ANNUAL REVIEW & OUTLOOK F ew shippers and transporta- tion providers planned for bi l l ion a i re bu si ne s sm a n , realit y television star, and Republican nominee Donald Trump to win the US presidential election. But Trump's November victory may be the last surprise he has in store for the transportation sector, because, as president-elect, Trump's decisions and stated direction have been more conventional than controversial. Shippers were preparing for a brave new world last fall, when the evolving Trump administration was doubling down on its promises to deliver $1 trillion in infrastructure investment via public-private partnerships; reset — or withdraw from — trade deals, most notably the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement; and repeal, or at least curb, existing and new regulation. Now, winter has come, and with it revelations that those plans may have been pitches, not promises. Since his election, Trump has nominated former labor secretary, Washington insider, and the wife of the Senate majority leader to head the Department of Transporta- tion; said he'd rather see the North American Free Trade Agreement reworked than ripped up; and is struggling to sell an enormous infrastructure booster shot to a Congress that has said infrastructure isn't a top priority. "Without meaning to make light of the outcome of the presidential election, we all need to take a breath and pause," said Susan Kohn Ross, an international trade attorney at Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp. "First, business will continue. Second, cargo will continue to flow across borders — in and out. Whether costs will go up and delivery times be delayed remains to be seen." On the campaign trail Trump made it clear: "We will withdraw from NAFTA and start all over and get a much, much better deal than we ever had before." Withdrawing from NAFTA would dump the whole lot of tariffs on shippers moving goods across North American borders that were eliminated under the trade pact. It also wouldn't be impossible, as some thought early on. Article 2205 of NAFTA allows any party to withdraw from the agreement with six months' notice. It's something Trump, as Republican nominee to the highest office in the land, said he had every intention of pur- suing. Trump as president-elect, however, has toned down that rhetoric. Donald Trump's path to transforming trade and infrastructure begins with his DOT secretary. BY REYNOLDS HUTCHINS TRANSPORTATION'S NEW ROAD WARRIOR

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