With Alberta contracts canned, CN CEO still sees a 'private sector solution' for crude-by-rail
The chief executive officer of Canada’s largest railway says he is cautiously optimistic about what Canada’s future with some of its biggest trading partners will do for his company’s business.
“The more recent news about [U.S.] Vice-President [Mike Pence] being in Ottawa and promoting the signing of the new free-trade agreement with the United States, if you wish, we’ll see how that plays out,” Canadian National Railway Company CEO Jean-Jacques Ruest told BNN Bloomberg in an interview on Tuesday.
“I think trade, really, trade is good for all countries, especially Canada as a trading nation. We’re still on the optimistic side, but [the] optimistic-caution side, as to what that will do to the business.”
However, Ruest did express some concern over China’s decision to stop accepting shipments of canola from two of Canada’s largest producers.
“We do watch the situation between Canada and China directly, and what’s happening in terms of canola not being exported to China anymore and some of the challenges that the people who export pork to China also are facing,” he said.
Both Chinese and American importers are having an effect on the amount of commodity shipments the railroad was able to haul in May. Ruest said that volumes of crude and grains, specifically, were down in that month.
“There is a bit of a slowdown in some different sectors. One of them was crude, but it’s slowly coming back.
“Canadian export grain was also slowed down this winter and we saw the impact of the slowdown of the import of containers from China and the United States until we get a new level of run-weight, if you wish.”
Ruest reiterated his stance he made in April that the railways can play an important short-term role to help ease Canada’s crude export concerns amid ongoing efforts to build new pipelines across the country.
“We would love to find a way to help Alberta to increase its production of crude and using the rail capacity of the Canadian railroads, both of them, to get the product to market,” he said.
“I think the news of yesterday, as it relates to Line 3, is just an indication that rail could be a good solution for a period of time until the pipelines are finally built in our country.”