CN Rail CEO Ruest hails Canada-U.S. trade progress
The chief executive officer of Canada’s largest railway is optimistic about Canada’s trade future.
“When you look at the trade tensions between the United States and China, last year was quite a challenge,” Canadian National Railway Co. CEO Jean-Jacques Ruest told BNN Bloomberg in an interview Wednesday.
“Canada needs China, the United States needs China, and vice-versa. One would hope that the mood has changed a bit.”
Ruest’s optimism comes in the wake of the phase-one trade deal the U.S. signed with China earlier this month. He also said the new North American free-trade pact signed into law by U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday is a step in the right direction.
“The mood has changed a bit, from negative attention to getting in the right direction,” Ruest said.
“We’re renewing the agreement. The new [NAFTA] is slightly better than the one before. So we’re going to get back into making sure that we’re a very good trading partner.”
Ruest also said his company is well-positioned for an uptick in trade activity between China and the U.S. as a result of the US$100 billion China has committed to spending on American products, including agriculture.
“Our network is a North American network. … We do participate, also, in the grain export from the United States,” Ruest said.
“We have a network from the U.S. Midwest that runs all the way into the Gulf of Mexico. So, when the U.S. is active on the export of corn or soybeans, CN can participate in that via the Gulf coast.”
Ruest’s confidence in CN’s place in the North American supply chain comes two days after former Canadian ambassador to the United States Frank McKenna said the U.S. trade deal with China is likely to pull significant business away from Canada’s agriculture industry.
CN reported a steep drop in fourth-quarter profit on Tuesday, with an eight-day strike by 3,200 employees in November playing a pivotal role.