Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Tariff Concerns at Northwest Seaport Alliance

By Karen Robes Meeks

Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) CEO John Wolfe recently stood before the US House Ways and Means Committee to talk about the effects of US tariff policy on the local and national economy.

“We are deeply invested in US trade policy discussions because they directly impact our core business, the success of our customers and the lives of our local residents,” he said.

Marine cargo operations at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma support more than 48,000 jobs, while Sea-Tac’s air cargo operations help create more than 5,200 jobs, Wolfe said. “The port and NWSA gateways are truly national assets, with more than 60 percent of the goods imported through the NWSA destined for the rest of the country,” he noted.

Wolfe cited examples, such as the $2.5 billion worth of industrial and electric machinery imports that move through Seattle/Tacoma ports into Illinois, while Ohio and Indiana respectively import $1.9 billion and $1.2 billion worth of these products through his ports. Last year, he added, Seattle/Tacoma exported $1.89 billion in soybeans to China even though none are grown in Washington State.

“While there are justifiable concerns about China’s trade practices, we continue to believe that productive engagement and negotiations are the best path to ensuring a fair and level playing field for mutually beneficial trade,” Wolfe said. “The US must be clear on the desired remedies sought, and then tariffs should be a measure of last resort that are narrowly targeted to address the problem and minimize the unintended impacts on Americans. While it is impossible to truly estimate the impact of these tariffs, roughly $8 billion in two-way trade through our airport and seaport will potentially face some level of increased tariff.”