Washington’s export economy and the future of the Port of Seattle are bound together, as they have been for over a century.
Port leaders will be convening events with some of their most important clients across the region this week to promote the Pacific Northwest exports.
“As an engine for economic growth for the whole state, we want to be sure we’re serving our customers’ needs,” said Commission President Tom Albro.
“Our Century Agenda strategy charts significant growth for the port over the next 25 years and we need to know what more we can do to support global trade. Exports are a critical economic development tool for central and eastern Washington and we want to spur more export-related job growth in the region.”
The Port Commission, along with CEO Tay Yoshitani and other key staff members, will hold a series of discussions with exporters to update them on the shifting patterns of global trade. The port will also seek to learn where it can assist in removing logistical and policy barriers that inhibit commerce.
Central and eastern Washington agricultural producers represent the largest category of exporters of containerized freight from the Port of Seattle. More than 75,000 containers (TEUs) of hay were shipped out of the Port of Seattle in 2012. Fruit, vegetables, meats, dairy and other foods accounted for another 93,000 containers. The state’s agricultural businesses exported $8.6 billion in farm products in 2011.
The other major export category (timber, lumber, paper and other forest products) accounted for another 135,000 containers exported from the port.
At the export roundtables, the port will share its Century Agenda vision for growth, and discuss the need for statewide transportation investments for freight mobility that will facilitate the flow of exports.
The port will also enlist the support of exporters for federal reform of the Harbor Maintenance Tax. The import tax funds harbor dredging projects and is collected at container ports like Seattle. The port is seeking to level the playing field with Canadian ports, where the tax is not collected.
During the tour, Seattle commissioners will hold joint meetings with the port commissions of Moses Lake and Walla Walla. The ports will explore opportunities to work together to grow jobs on both sides of the Cascades.
Following the joint commission meeting in Walla Walla, port officials will meet with area tourism leaders on regional tourism promotion activities to capitalize on the Port of Seattle’s status as the gateway of statewide tourism, the homeport of the Alaska cruise industry and operator of Sea-Tac International Airport.
Press Release, April 24, 2013