Cramer calls on Canada to let rail performance mandates expire
Today Congressman Kevin Cramer officially called on the Canadian government to let the grain shipment performance mandates it is imposing on rail companies permanently expire. In a set of individual letters to Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, and the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB), Cramer outlined his growing concerns about the mandates and the recent fines levied by Canada against Canadian National Railway (CN).
The Canadian government decided in March of this year to fine Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) and CN if either fails to move at least 536,250 metric tonnes of domestic grain per week. Cramer first expressed his concerns about the mandates in a letter to Ambassador Doer in March, and followed up by meeting with Doer and Canadian Member of Parliament Rob Merrifield. After the mandates were renewed on August 1, Cramer reiterated his concerns about U.S. agriculture producers and shippers being placed at a disadvantage in a subsequent letter to Doer.
The letters sent by Cramer today are in response to Doer’s reply, which did not specify whether Canada plans to again renew the mandates after they expire on November 29.
“I respect the fact that you want to protect your domestic and international patrons. Your customers are also our customers. But, the nexus between your performance mandates, and their implicit encouragement for CP and CN to provide less service to the United States, in my opinion provides a solid foundation for a successful trade violation claim,” Cramer wrote to Doer.
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In addition to his letter to Ambassador Doer, Cramer separately asked the STB to join his effort to persuade the Canadian government to allow the mandates to expire on November 29th, called on U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to investigate Canada’s actions for potential trade violations, and asked U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to speak with Canadian Transport Minister Raitt and Agriculture Minister Ritz to encourage the Canadian government to allow the mandates to lapse.
“Yesterday I received electronically a letter from Ambassador Doer, indicating “the railways have met or exceeded required volumes on a weekly basis, demonstrating the requirements are achievable.” Assuming these mandates are predicated upon actual, rather than political need, doesn’t this statement actually confirm coercion at the expense of CP’s and CN’s United States customers? No one, especially CP and CN, benefit from poor service,” wrote Cramer to the STB.
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