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Washington ports say Trump tariffs could harm state economy

Port of Seattle along the city's waterfront. (Port of Seattle)

The Northwest Seaport Alliance argues that President Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum could economically harm Washington state.

“Higher tariffs will jeopardize jobs in Washington and raise costs for consumers in a much wider range of industries,” said Courtney Gregoire, Port of Seattle commission president and co-chair of the NWSA. “We support vigorous enforcement of fair trade laws and a level playing field, but this reckless approach puts too many people and industries in the economic cross hairs.”

RELATED: Analysts worried about Trump trade war after 2016 election

The seaport alliance represents the ports of Tacoma and Seattle. It’s the “fourth-largest maritime shipping gateway in North America,” according the alliance. The ports’ voices add to a chorus of concerns over the tariffs. Trump’s own economic advisor resigned as the tariffs were signed. Republicans have also objected to the move.

The ports imported more than $2.5 billion worth of steel and aluminum during 2017. Washington’s manufacturers use those materials.

Tit-for-tariffs

A trade war was a concern when Trump was elected in 2016.

Port of Tacoma Commission President Don Meyer echoed concerns that Trump’s tariff’s could trigger countermeasures from other countries. Such actions could include tariffs on America’s agricultural products. Washington exports a considerable portion of its own produce.

“Just as concerning as these blanket tariffs is the potential for retaliatory tariffs on exports of Washington agricultural and manufactured goods,” Meyer said. “As a state in which 40 percent of our jobs are tied to international trade, we are risking jobs and quality of life by levying blanket tariffs against some of our most important trading partners and opening the door to their retaliation.”

The Puget Sound ports are the second-largest exporters of agricultural and forest products in the nation, valuing more than $6.8 billion. Between 80-90 percent of Washington’s wheat is exported. Mike Miller, chairman of the U.S. Wheat Associates, says that wheat is an “easy target” for retaliatory tariffs.

Washington exports

According to the seaport alliance:

  • Sea-Tac Airport took in $16,469,495 in iron/steel in 2017; and $6,064,945 worth of aluminum.
  • Northwest Seaport Alliance imported $1,878,245,128 worth of iron/steel in 2017; and $557,234,253 in aluminum.

Washington also exports a considerable portion of its agricultural products.

  • Washington exported $7 billion worth of state-grown products in 2016. This includes: wheat; fruit; vegetables; seafood; meat; and dairy products.
  • 2/3 of Washington-grown products go to Asia.
  • Washington is the nation’s No. 1 producer of apples, hops, pears, and aquaculture; and the No. 2 producer of potatoes, grapes, and onions.

 

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