Our 2016 Washington, D.C. “fly-in” was action packed! We had members representing all three countries join us in Washington and had productive meetings over three days - See photos below!
We began our trip by once again participating in the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC) Annual Meeting at the Rayburn House Building with dialogue centered this year on Presidential politics, closing America’s infrastructure gap, streamlining and permitting under the FAST Act, and innovative freight movement. Our very own Tiffany Melvin moderated the Innovative Freight Movement session with our member Paul Trombino, Director of Iowa DOT sharing about Iowa’s freight mapping project – folks were very interested in this unique project! We also heard from Ranking Member Tom DeFazio of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, as well as Congressman Alan Lowenthal who was a sponsor of the Economy in Motion Act.
Interesting points on America’s infrastructure gap from presentations:
· It costs families $3,400.00 each year in disposable income due to infrastructure deficiencies.
· A $3.00 investment per day is all it would take to catch up and fix the infrastructure gap.
To follow, that evening we attended Iowa’s Annual Reception (they were in town for the state’s annual fly-in) hosted by The Greater Des Moines Partnership, with a beautiful view of the city on the Potomac Terrace Rooftop. We saw members from Polk County, the Des Moines MPO, and the Partnership!
The following day, we had meetings at the Canadian and Mexican Embassies in order to brief key staff and leadership on our latest NASCO work and discuss the North American Leaders Summit (NALS). At the Canadian Embassy, we met with our dear friend and Economic Minister Gilles Gauthier. As most of you know, Canada has a new Ambassador to the United States, David McNaughton. Unfortunately, he was out of town during our visit, but we hope to meet him in the future. There is also a new Ambassador of Mexico to the United States, Carlos Sada, who comes from the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles. It was his first day on the job, so we met with NAFTA Minister Ken Smith.
Later that day, we hosted our North American Federal Agency Roundtable, at the U.S. Department of Commerce, with key government and industry representatives to discuss important projects and updates on single window, pre-clearance, North American Leaders Summit and more. It was terrific dialogue and a great forum to bring these agencies together. If you would like more information from the N.A. Federal Roundtable please let me know.
The “fly-in” wrapped up with a NAFTA Next Roundtable: All Trade is Personal hosted by CAGTC, NASCO and Dickinson Wright at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center. This intimate discussion provided Congressional staffers the opportunity to participate in an interactive presentation and discussion on free trade agreements, highlighting how free trade impacts regional businesses. Gerry Schwebel, our immediate past chairman, represented NASCO and his border community of Laredo. Matt Rooney, NASCO member and Director of Economic Growth at the Bush Institute also spoke to the importance of trade. There is much seen and unseen in trade, but people often only understand the seen. At this event we shared a one page document with several tangible examples of trade (coffee, flowers, gasoline) that occur in North Americans everyday lives.
In short, it was a fantastic trip and our North American work was well received.