From Aggregates Production to Construction Spending to Housing Starts, Here are the Latest Economic Markers to Watch.
The aggregates industry is still waiting for a comprehensive infrastructure bill. According to Randy Lake, president of CRH Americas Materials and chairman of the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, making an infrastructure package a reality is absolutely critical, and the sooner Congress acts the faster we can get to work as an industry. “After much anticipation in 2017, earlier this year the President called for both parties to come together and for Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investment,” Lake told Rock Products Editor Mark Kuhar. “To be effective it would need to include long-term, robust revenue for the federal Highway Trust Fund and streamline the permitting and approval process to no more than two years. This would have a significant, positive impact on the permitting process for expanding and establishing aggregate operations. Engaging in the infrastructure debate will require NSSGA’s continued focus to ensure the future strength of our industry. Needless to say this will continue to be one to watch and be a carefully considered focus of our advocacy efforts.”
Aggregates Production Still Rising
The estimated U.S. output of construction aggregates produced and shipped for consumption in the first quarter of 2018 was 422 million metric tons (Mt), a slight increase compared with that of the same period of 2017, according to Jason Willett, crushed stone commodity specialist for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The estimated annual output produced for consumption in 2017 was 2.26 billion metric tons (Gt), a slight increase compared with the annual output for 2016.
An estimated 256 Mt of crushed stone was produced and shipped for consumption in the United States in the first quarter of 2018, a slight decrease compared with that of the same period of 2017. The estimated annual output produced for consumption in 2017 was 1.35 Gt, a slight decrease compared with that of 2016.
The estimated U.S. output of construction sand and gravel produced and shipped for consumption in the first quarter of 2018 was 165 Mt, an increase of 7 percent compared with that of the same period of 2017. The estimated annual output produced for consumption in 2017 was 905 Mt, a slight increase compared with the annual output for 2016.
Construction Spending Up Slightly
The U.S. Census Bureau announced that in May 2018, construction spending during May 2018 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,309.5 billion, 0.4 percent (±1.3 percent) above the revised April estimate of $1,304.5 billion.
The May figure is 4.5 percent (±1.6 percent) above the May 2017 estimate of $1,253.6 billion.
During the first five months of this year, construction spending amounted to $497.1 billion, 4.3 percent (±1.2 percent) above the $476.7 billion for the same period in 2017.
The estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of public construction spending was $304.1 billion, 0.7 percent (±2.6 percent) above the revised April estimate of $302.1 billion.
Educational construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $74.3 billion, 0.9 percent (±2.5 percent) above the revised April estimate of $73.6 billion.
Highway construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $94.6 billion, 0.2 percent (±8.1 percent) below the revised April estimate of $94.8 billion, but up 5.8 percent from May 2017 to May 2018.
Spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,005.4 billion, 0.3 percent (±0.8 percent) above the revised April estimate of $1,002.3 billion.
- Residential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $553.8 billion in May, 0.8 percent (±1.3 percent) above the revised April estimate of $549.3 billion.
- Nonresidential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $451.5 billion in May, 0.3 percent (±0.8 percent) below the revised April estimate of $453.0 billion.
“Public construction spending has increased strongly for the past nine months and is now at the highest level since 2010, led by a rebound in infrastructure investment,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America. “Single-family homebuilding is continuing to expand, while multifamily construction has pulled out of a recent slump, but growth in private nonresidential spending remains modest and inconsistent. However, rising materials costs and shortages of qualified workers may stall all types of projects.”
Association officials noted that rapidly rising materials costs, due in part to new and anticipated tariffs, are likely to make some projects unaffordable. In addition, acute shortages of qualified labor may result in project delays, Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer, cautioned. He urged Congress to pass a new Perkins Act that increases funding for career and technical education and for the Trump administration to avoid a damaging trade war.
“The prediction has been that publicly financed construction spending would rise in America,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “The logic of this is rooted in two basic factors. The first is that the ongoing economic expansion, now in its 10th year, has steadily improved fiscal conditions in state and local government. With more money to spend, more communities are empowered to deal with deferred maintenance and even to expand the capacity of certain key infrastructure, whether roads, mass transit, wastewater treatment plants or water systems.
“The other factor relates to a political cycle,” said Basu. “Increasingly, policymakers have been making the case – and much of the electorate seems convinced – that stepped-up infrastructure investment is needed. Accordingly, in recent years, 31 states have expanded their transportation funding, including 24 of them by raising state gas taxes. Not surprisingly, public construction spending is higher on month-over-month and year-over-year bases.
“What has been less clear is whether privately financed construction would continue to rise,” said Basu. “While the economy remains strong, a number of headwinds have formed, particularly concerns regarding tariffs and trade wars. Construction material prices have already begun to surge, in part because of trade disputes involving materials such as softwood lumber, steel and aluminum. This increases project costs without offering developers and their financiers any offsetting commercial benefit.
“Moreover, fears of a full-blown trade war between the United States and NAFTA partners, the European Union and/or China have likely resulted in some businesses and investors adopting a wait-and-see attitude,” said Basu.
Construction Starts Climb
At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $783.6 billion, new construction starts in May advanced 15 percent from April, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The increase follows a 12 percent decline in April, and shows total construction activity reaching the highest level reported over the past eight months.
The lift in May came from substantial gains for nonbuilding construction, up 39 percent and nonresidential building, up 18 percent as both sectors benefitted from the start of several very large projects. Highway and bridge construction dropped 26 percent.
Nonbuilding construction, and specifically its public works segment, was boosted by the start of three large natural gas pipelines with a combined construction start cost of $4.6 billion, plus $1.4 billion related to the start of an environmental cleanup project at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, a $1.4 billion rail transit project in Los Angeles and a $1.1 billion rail transit project in the Boston area.
Nonresidential building was aided by the start of a $1.0 billion Facebook data center in Nebraska, the $764 million expansion to the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle and a $740 million airport terminal project at Salt Lake City International Airport.
Meanwhile, residential building in May held steady with its April pace. Through the first five months of 2018, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $299.9 billion, down 3 percent from the same period a year ago.
“During the first five months of 2018, total construction starts have shown an up-and-down pattern, with May coming in strong after a subdued April,” stated Robert A. Murray, chief economist for Dodge Data & Analytics. “Much of the volatility in early 2018 has come from the public works sector, affected by the presence of unusually large project starts during a given month such as what took place in May. In addition, the nonresidential building sector showed resilience in May, bouncing back after a lackluster performance in April.
“On balance, the pace of total construction starts is staying close to the levels achieved over the past year, when activity grew 5 percent,” Murray continued. “It’s true that the construction industry is facing increased headwinds, such as higher material prices and the recent pickup in interest rates, but to this point they have not yet produced a discernible negative impact on the overall level of construction starts. On the plus side, the public works and institutional building sectors continue to benefit from the state and local bond measures passed in recent years. The public works sector should also benefit from the increased federal funding for transportation projects included in the March 2018 federal appropriations bill. While market fundamentals such as rents and vacancies have weakened for multifamily housing, they still remain relatively healthy for warehouses and offices. Bank lending standards for nonresidential building projects have eased slightly, and the recent rollback of Dodd-Frank regulatory constraints on mid-size regional banks may lead to more funding for construction projects in the near term.”
Nonbuilding Construction – Spending in May was $222.1 billion (annual rate), rebounding 39 percent after sliding 23 percent in April. The public works project types as a group surged 47 percent, boosted by a 169 percent jump by the miscellaneous public works category that includes pipelines, rail transit and site work.
There were three substantial natural gas pipeline projects entered as construction starts in May – the $2.1 billion Mountaineer Xpress Pipeline in West Virginia, the $1.9 billion Gulf Coast Express Pipeline in Texas and the $600 million Gulf Xpress Project that involves new compressor stations in Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.
In addition, there were two substantial rail transit projects entered as construction starts in May – the $1.4 billion Westside Purple Line Extension (section 2) in Los Angeles and the $1.1 billion Green Line Extension in Somerville, Mass.
The sewer and hazardous waste category soared 196 percent in May, reflecting $1.4 billion related to the start of environmental cleanup work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico that will span up to 10 years.
Water supply construction and river/harbor development registered similar gains in May, rising 25 percent and 22 percent, respectively, with the latter helped by the start of a $310 million flood mitigation project in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Highway and bridge construction was the one public works project type to recede in May, dropping 26 percent as it continues to retreat after very strong activity in March. Through the first five months of 2018, highway and bridge construction starts were still up 4 percent compared to last year.
The electric utility/gas plant category dropped 24 percent in May, although the latest month did include the start of a $325 million wind farm in Illinois and a $250 million transmission line project in Missouri.
Nonresidential Building – Spending in May was $248.6 billion (annual rate), climbing 18 percent after a 12 percent decline in April. The institutional categories as a group increased 40 percent, reaching the highest level since last September.
Amusement and recreational building provided much of the lift, advancing 138 percent in May with the help of these large projects – the $764 million expansion to the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, the $175 million Wynn Paradise Park Convention Center (phase 1) in Las Vegas and the $168 million Harrah’s Northern California Casino in Ione, Calif.
The transportation terminal category also advanced sharply in May, rising 132 percent as the result of groundbreaking for the $740 million North Concourse terminal at Salt Lake City International Airport in Utah.
Educational facilities, the largest nonresidential building category by dollar amount, grew 29 percent in May after slipping 11 percent in April. Large educational facility projects that reached groundbreaking in May included the $400 million Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles, a $186 million high school in Sherwood, Ore., and a $185 million renovation of an office building into a K-12 private school facility in Washington, D.C.
The religious buildings category also strengthened in May, growing 36 percent after a weak amount in April. On the negative side, healthcare facilities slipped 4 percent in May and the public buildings category (courthouses and detention facilities) fell 24 percent.
The commercial categories as a group rose 7 percent in May, showing improvement for the second month in a row after April’s 6 percent gain. Hotel construction had a strong May, climbing 27 percent as the result of such projects as the $320 million Four Seasons Hotel in New Orleans and the $222 million Kalahari Resort in Round Rock, Texas.
Warehouse construction advanced 21 percent in May, reflecting the start of a $200 million warehouse complex in Edgerton, Kan., and an $83 million tire distribution center in the Memphis area.
New office construction starts increased 7 percent in May, lifted by a $1.0 billion expansion to a Facebook data center in Papillion, Neb., and a $300 million office building in Charlotte, N.C. Also contributing to May’s commercial building upturn was the commercial garage category, which grew 19 percent. However, store construction retreated from its improved April amount, falling 33 percent in May. The manufacturing building category in May plunged 54 percent, showing weaker activity for the second month in a row.
Residential building – Spending in May was $312.8 billion (annual rate), essentially unchanged from its April amount. Multifamily housing in May made a partial 13 percent rebound after a 20 percent decline in April.
There were six multifamily projects valued each at $100 million or more that reached groundbreaking in May, compared to four such projects in April. Leading the way was the $173 million multifamily portion of a $200 million mixed-use high-rise in Oakland, $162 million for two residential towers in Bethesda, Md., and $155 million for the multifamily portion of a $190 million mixed-use complex in the San Jose, Calif., area.
Single-family housing in May retreated 4 percent from the previous month, as the continued expansion for this project type struggles to take hold in early 2018. By geography, single family housing showed this pattern in May relative to April – the South Central, down 8 percent; the West and South Atlantic, each down 6 percent; and the Midwest and Northeast, each up 5 percent.
Housing Starts Also Rise
Total housing starts rose 5 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.35 million units, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department. This is the highest housing starts report since July 2007.
While housing production numbers rose, overall permits – which are a sign of future housing production activity – dropped 4.6 percent to 1.3 million units in May. Single-family permits fell 2.2 percent to 844,000 while multifamily permits fell 8.7 percent to 457,000.
“Ongoing job creation, positive demographics and tight existing home inventory should spur more single-family production in the months ahead,” said National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “However, the softening of single-family permits is consistent with our reports showing that builders are concerned over mounting construction costs, including the highly elevated prices of softwood lumber.”
The May reading of 1.35 million is the number of housing units builders would begin if they kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts rose 3.9 percent to 936,000 – the second highest reading since the Great Recession. Meanwhile, the multifamily sector – which includes apartment buildings and condos – rose 7.5 percent to 414,000 units.
Year-to-date, single-family and multifamily production are respectively 9.8 percent and 13.6 percent higher than their levels over the same period last year. The year-to-date metric can help compare performance data over a specific time period and show growth trends.
“We should see builders continue to increase production to meet growing consumer demand even as they grapple with stubborn supply-side constraints, particularly rising lumber costs,” said NAHB Chairman Randy Noel, a custom home builder from LaPlace, La.
Regionally, the Midwest led the nation with a 62.2 percent increase in combined single- and multifamily housing starts. Starts fell 0.9 percent in the South, 4.1 percent in the West and 15 percent in the Northeast.
Looking at regional permit data, permits rose 42.1 percent in the Northeast and 7.2 percent in the Midwest. They fell 4.6 percent in the West and 13.9 percent in the South.
It takes 400 tons of aggregates to construct the average modern home, according to the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association.
Nonresidential Holding Firm
The Dodge Momentum Index grew 0.8 percent in June to 165.5 (2000=100) from the revised May reading of 164.2. The Momentum Index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year.
In June, the commercial component of the Momentum Index moved 1.1 percent higher, while the institutional component eked out a 0.3 percent gain.
June’s advance marks the fifth straight monthly increase for the Momentum Index, which is now nearing a 10-year high, and suggests that the moderate strengthening of construction activity currently underway will continue through the end of 2018.
At the same time, the gains for the Momentum Index during the most recent two months have been considerably smaller than what took place from last October through April, returning to a pace more consistent with the gradual expansion that’s been present since the recovery began back in 2011.
In June, 13 projects each with a value of $100 million or more entered planning. The two leading commercial projects were a $300 million hotel in Orlando and a $225 million warehouse in Rialto, Calif. The leading institutional projects were the $349 million outpatient medical facility in Richmond, Va., and a $200 million hospital in Venice, Fla.
Great Lakes Limestone Shipments Vigorous
Shipments of limestone on the Great Lakes totaled 4,052,994 tons in June, an increase of more than 17 percent compared to a year ago, according to the Lake Carriers’ Association. This June also represented the first month in which loadings topped 4 million tons since July 2015.
- Loadings from U.S. quarries totaled 3.2 million tons, an increase of 16.2 percent compared to a year ago.
- Shipments from Canadian quarries totaled 815,000 tons, an increase of 22 percent.
Year-to-date the Lakes limestone trade stands at 9.3 million tons, an increase of 5.9 percent compared to a year ago. Loadings from Michigan and Ohio quarries total 7.7 million tons, an increase of 8.2 percent. Shipments from Ontario quarries total 1.6 million tons, a decrease of about three boatloads.
The Lake Carriers’ Association represents 13 American companies that operate 45 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes and carry the raw materials that drive the nation’s economy: iron ore and fluxstone for the steel industry, aggregate and cement for the construction industry, coal for power generation, as well as sand, grain and gypsum. Collectively, these vessels can transport more than 100 million tons of cargo per year.
Construction Employment Very Active
Construction employment increased by 13,000 jobs in June and by 282,000 jobs over the past year, reaching a 10-year high, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said many construction firms appear to be more willing to hire amid lower tax rates and a more favorable business environment, but caution that trade fights and labor shortages pose risks to future growth.
“The construction industry continues to add workers faster than the economy as a whole, and the industry is paying premium wages to attract and retain those workers,” said AGC’s Simonson. “The employment gains are occurring in both residential and nonresidential construction. However, the industry is having to rely more and more on workers without construction experience, as the pool of unemployed construction workers has nearly evaporated.”
Construction employment totaled 7,222,000 in June, the highest level since May 2008 and a gain of 4.1 percent over the past 12 months. The economist pointed out that the year-over-year growth rate in industry jobs was more than double the 1.6 percent rise in total non-farm payroll employment.
Hourly earnings in the industry averaged $29.71 in June, an increase of 2.9 percent from a year earlier. That put average hourly earnings in construction 10.1 percent higher than the average for all nonfarm private-sector jobs, which rose 2.7 percent in the past year, to $26.98, Simonson added.
The unemployment for workers with construction experience in June was 4.7 percent, virtually unchanged from the levels in June 2017 (4.5 percent) and June 2016 (4.6 percent) – a sign that the industry is operating at essentially full employment, Simonson said.
Employment in residential construction – comprising residential building and specialty trade contractors – grew by 4,400 jobs in June and by 133,800 jobs over the past 12 months, a 5.0 percent increase. Employment in nonresidential construction – including building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction – grew by 8,600 jobs in June and by 147,900 during the past year, a 3.5 percent increase.
Association officials observed that construction employers appear more eager to hire amid lower taxes and increased efforts to reduce needless or ineffective regulatory burdens. They added that recent increased infrastructure investments at the federal and state level are also helping boost construction employment. But they cautioned that workforce shortages, tariffs and a looming trade war could undermine future construction employment gains.
“The steps Congress and the Trump administration have taken to create a more positive business environment and boost employment appear to be working,” said AGC’s. “But new trade disputes and chronic underfunding of career and technical education programs pose a real threat to continued employment gains in the sector.”
Tariffs Hit Construction Market
Construction costs accelerated again in June, with steep increases for a wide range of building and road construction materials as tariffs against foreign goods come into effect, according to an analysis by AGC of new Labor Department data. Association officials say that contractors will have to assume much of the costs as tariffs increase the costs of many key construction materials.
“Contractors’ costs for a wide range of materials and services have escalated dramatically in the past few months, putting a squeeze on profits and dimming the outlook for both public and private projects,” said the association’s chief economist, said Simonson, noting that the U.S. imposed steel and aluminum tariffs on imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union on May 31 and has since announced over $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods. “Tariffs that took effect or have been announced since this price data was collected will push costs up even more.”
The construction economist noted that the producer price index jumped by 20.0 percent for aluminum mill shapes, 17.4 percent for copper and brass mill shapes and 12.3 percent for steel mill products between June 2017 and June 2018. Other construction inputs that rose sharply in price from May 2017 to May 2018 include diesel fuel, 52.8 percent; lumber and plywood, 18.3 percent; asphalt felts and coatings, 7.5 percent; ready-mixed concrete, 5.5 percent; and paving mixtures and blocks, 5.0 percent.
“Many of these increases far outstripped the 4.3 percent rise in the price index for new construction – what contractors are charging to build projects, implying that contractors’ profit margins are shrinking as they absorb some of the increased costs,” Simonson added.
The producer price index for inputs to construction industries, goods – a measure of all materials used in construction projects including items consumed by contractors, such as diesel fuel – rose 9.6 percent over 12 months. The year-over-year increase was the steepest since October 2008, Simonson noted.
Association officials say the new tariffs are putting new cost pressures on many construction firms. As many firms struggle to cope with rising materials prices they will have less capital available to invest in personnel – especially as labor costs continue to climb. And firms will have less money available to invest in technologies that can make the construction process more efficient.
“The broader impact of the new tariffs and the trade fights that are now emerging is a significant and costly loss in productivity for many construction firms,” said Sandherr. “Making real, sustained and long-term investments in our aging and over-burdened infrastructure will do more to boost domestic production of strategic resources without exacting lasting damage on construction firms and the high-wage jobs they offer.”
Machinery used by aggregates operations is on a list of Chinese imports that are subject to a 25 percent duty beginning July 6, according to the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA). The United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced a list of Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) codes that classified hundreds of goods subject to the increased tariff.
The list includes seven entries under subheading 8474, which covers machines and equipment parts used in aggregate production (sorting, screening, separating, washing, crushing and grinding).
NSSGA submitted comments to the USTR requesting that subheading 8474 be exempted from the additional duties. This request was denied, and USTR is expected to publish the process for requesting an exemption in the next few weeks. The agency is also expected to open comments soon on additional 284 HTS codes being considered for a 25 percent duty.
“It’s frustrating to see additional economic burdens placed on the small businesses who help create our infrastructure system,” said Ashley Amidon, senior director of legislative affairs. “NSSGA will continue to oppose any additional tariffs on the industry.”
“Imposing tariffs places the cost of China’s unfair trade practices squarely on the shoulders of American consumers, manufacturers, farmers and ranchers. This is not the right approach,” said Thomas Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
On June 14, nine major construction industry organizations sent separate letters to Senate leadership and the Trump administration opposing recently implemented tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Canada, the European Union and Mexico.
Signatories included the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, the Associated General Contractors of America, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, NSSGA, the Energy Equipment & Infrastructure Alliance, the American Concrete Pipe Association, the National Utility Contractors Association and the National Asphalt Pavement Association.
The letter to the U.S. Senate is in support of Sen. Bob Corker’s (R-Tenn.) bipartisan legislation (S. 3013) that would require congressional approval of tariffs deemed national security-related under Section 232 of the of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
In the letters, the trade organizations expressed opposition to the tariffs on steel and aluminum, particularly highlighting the impact it will have on equipment prices. “The tariffs on Canada will result in a shortage of the raw materials used to manufacture construction equipment while driving up costs for contractors and other customers who purchase the machinery,” the groups wrote.
The groups cautioned policymakers that the tariffs will only exasperate delays in manufacturers meeting customer equipment demand. The organizations stated, “The tariffs on Canada, the European Union and Mexico will further disrupt the supply chain, resulting in delays in product completion, an increase in costs for equipment purchasers and inadequate quantities of new construction equipment to help rebuild America.”
Association of Equipment Manufacturers President Dennis Slater expressed his disappointment after the steel tariffs were announced by President Trump. “The equipment-manufacturing industry is profoundly disappointed at President Trump’s actions to advance import tariffs on steel and aluminum. These ‘Trump Tariffs’ will put U.S. equipment manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage, risk undoing the strides our economy has made due to tax reform, and ultimately pose a threat to American workers’ jobs.”
The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) also weighed in on the negative impact of the tariffs.
“History shows the imposition of tariffs has the potential to increase the price of imported commodities and products,” the organization said in a statement. “Steel is an important input for transportation construction – for every $1 spent on highway and bridge construction, 10 cents goes toward steel-related materials. As such, if President Trump’s new tariff on steel leads to price increases, there will be adverse effects on the transportation construction industry’s ability to deliver needed infrastructure improvement projects.
The association noted that if prices increase for steel – whether domestic or imported – costs will also likely rise for construction and mining equipment, along with parts needed for maintenance. One U.S. equipment manufacturer, Terex Corp., announced March 6 it would implement a steel surcharge on its equipment to recoup the cost of steel price increases caused by the administration’s tariff.
Increased costs of purchasing and maintaining mining equipment that has steel components will result in increased costs of construction aggregates that are integral to projects
The Associated Equipment Dealers (AED) is concerned about the impact the tariffs could have on equipment distributors, manufacturers and their customers, and the effect on the cost of future infrastructure projects. The association said it will closely monitor implementation of the tariffs and work with other industry organizations, the administration and Congress to limit its impact on construction equipment dealers.
“The United States operates in a global economy and when a country takes protectionist measures it will always raise concerns about the negative impacts,” said AED President and CEO Brian P. McGuire, following the White House announcement. “However, similar to legislative and regulatory actions, the details matter and implementation is crucial. The coming weeks will be important to assess the Trump administration’s commitment to accommodating the concerns of our key trading partners and allies and the impact it will have on on-going trade agreement negotiations, such as NAFTA. Accessible and efficient international trade is critical to continued economic growth and international competitiveness.”