Great Falls, MT — In a new Great Falls Tribune op-ed, GoRail’s Montana State Director Michael Gaynorwrites that free trade has brought prosperity to Montana and argues that policymakers should recognize these gains in their approach to trade policy.

“People in Montana are better off thanks to our vigorous participation in the global marketplace, and they stand to lose if measures are taken that restrict access to Canadian, Asian, Latin American and European markets for a whole range of products farmed, mined and manufactured in Montana. By all means, we need to ensure our trade agreements are fair, but the bottom line is that current trade practices have been good for the state and country.

He offers several statistics to illustrate trade’s impact, including the fact that Montana’s exports and imports together support 1 in 5 state jobs (over 140,000), according to the U.S. Chamber. Furthermore, he notes, the industries that connect producers and consumers to global marketplaces — like freight rail — depend on robust international trade.

“Just like our natural resources industries, the freight railroads rely on stable markets to help identify and prepare for their customers’ future needs. This year alone, BNSF plans to invest $135 million in Montana’s rail infrastructure. And with 42 percent of rail car loads tied to international trade, railroads are just as subject to market instabilities as the customers they serve.

Montana needs robust international trade to continue to grow and thrive. It also needs an equally robust rail network that facilitates trade and exports. As our leaders in Washington debate the merits of existing trade agreements and tariffs, they need to be mindful of Montana’s fruitful global trade connections.”

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