Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Seattle, Tacoma Ports to Share Operating Info

By Mark Edward Nero

The ports of Seattle and Tacoma say they intend to share information with one another that will allow them to “gather and share information to identify potential options for responding to unprecedented industry pressures.”

In a discussion agreement that was filed Jan. 17 with the Federal Maritime Commission, the ports said that the move is necessitated in part by strong global competition. The agreement allows the ports, with appropriate legal oversight, to share information about their respective operations, facilities and rates. Both ports say they’ve agreed that a change in governance, such as a merger, will not be part of the discussions.

“These discussions are aimed at increasing our collective market share and generating more container cargo moving through Puget Sound,” a joint statement by the ports regarding the discussions reads in part. “We must leverage our strengths in the face of continued soft demand and increasing competition.”

The statement also goes on to say that Seattle and Tacoma face “fierce competition” from ports throughout North America and must “adjust to shifts” in the global maritime industry, such as global shipping lines responding to losing millions of dollars each year by investing in larger vessels with more capacity, sharing those vessels, consolidating terminals and reducing the number of ports at which they call.

The seven-page agreement, which is dated Jan. 16, 2014 and is signed by Port of Tacoma CEO John Wolfe and Seattle Deputy CEO Kurt Beckett, can be read or downloaded at http://www.portoftacoma.com/File.ashx?cid=6899 or at http://www.portseattle.org/Cargo/SeaCargo/Documents/FMC%20Discussion%20Agreement.PDF.