FedEx and UPS Set Aside Rivalry to Lobby White House on Infrastructure

An amusing meme that occasionally makes the rounds on social media shows a FedEx truck parked nose-to-nose with a UPS truck, with the caption "it’s about to go down." For the moment, however, the two major rivals have set aside their differences in the interest of the greater good.

David Abney, CEO of UPS and Frederick W. Smith, CEO of FedEx, co-authored an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, imploring the White House to take concrete action in several areas, lest the United States let opportunities for economic growth pass by. While acknowledging that they are "fierce competitors," the letter states that U.S. companies must "stand shoulder to shoulder on the need to make government policies more equitable, growth-oriented, and simple."

Economic rivals such as China and India continue to make massive investments in their infrastructure while U.S. infrastructure crumbles, according to the letter. While the CEOs express a willingness to commit to private investment, they also state the need for a multi-faceted funding system that includes user fees, private investment, and government investment.

The two CEOs also worry that the private investments they make will be alloted to other projects beyond the scope of the infrastructure FedEx and UPS use every day. In a later interview with CNBC, Abney stated that daily 5-minute delays that drivers incur due to infrastructure costs UPS about $105 million annually.

The letter also calls for policies that guarantee American access to the global market, and strong free trade agreements that create a fair playing field for U.S. businesses. The CEOs close with this statement: "If fierce competitors can agree on these fundamental policy priorities, can’t we all?"

President Trump didn’t respond directly to the letter, but did hold a press conference announcing an executive order that rolls back Obama-era environmental flood protection requirements to speed up permit approvals for infrastructure projects. The plan also assigns one federal agency per project as a single point of contact to cut back on red tape and delays.

Trump claims the order will reduce the time required for the environmental permitting process for highway projects from seven years to about two. "My administration is working every day to deliver the world-class infrastructure that our people deserve and, frankly, that our country deserves," he said.

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