The Northwest Seaport Alliance, a joint venture between the ports of Tacoma and Seattle, is concerned regarding the new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, imposed by the US Government, which could lead to negative economic consequences for Washington state.
Steel and aluminum imports through the NWSA and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport surpassed $2.5 billion in value in 2017. Those imports either go directly to Washington-based manufacturers or are processed through logistics services and routed to other destinations in the US.
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Courtney Gregoire, Port of Seattle commission president and co-chair of the NWSA, mentioned:
Higher tariffs will jeopardize jobs in Washington and raise costs for consumers in a much wider range of industries. 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 crosshairs.”
Many experts are also considering that new US tariffs on imports could cause retaliatory tariffs on US exports. The NWSA is a major export gateway for overall agricultural and forest products in the US The value of those exports added up to more than $6.8 billion in 2016, making up 76% of NWSA containerized exports.
Mike Miller, former chair of the Washington Grain Commission and current chairman of the U.S. Wheat Associates, said:
Washington farmers export 80 to 90 percent of their wheat, and so we are deeply reliant on foreign markets to ensure the success of our state’s growers. Our product is an easy target for retaliatory tariffs, which not only have the potential to reduce sales to overseas partners, but also disrupt long-term relationships that have taken years to cultivate.
While the exact potential for retaliatory tariffs from impacted trading partners is not clear yet, major steel and aluminum importers are also significant Washington trading partners. For example, Canada, Mexico, China and the European Union account for 50% of the destinations for exports through the Port of Seattle seaport, 45% through Sea-Tac and 37% of the destinations through the Port of Tacoma.