By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Public Policy
Washington Retail Association has joined the Port Competitiveness Coalition including the ports of Tacoma and Seattle. Partners include members from labor, shippers and the state’s agriculture industry.
The partners formed the coalition for competitive reasons. Puget Sound ports have been losing market share to other U.S. and Canadian ports and face new competition due to the widening of the Panama Canal. Puget Sound ports also have not kept pace with investments in facilities compared to competing ports, I learned at a coalition organizing meeting in Tacoma last week.
The health of Puget Sound ports is crucial for retailers in our state and nation. Seattle and Tacoma ports are major destinations of merchandise from overseas. Their geographic locations also are important to managing the cost of transporting goods to stores throughout the country.
WRA members import goods through the Northwest Seaport Alliance, the partnership between the Seattle and Tacoma ports. Last year the ports saw $73 billion in international trade. This accounts for 48,000 local jobs and $4.3 billion in local economic impact. The Northwest Seaport Alliance is the fourth largest port coalition in the United States with 8 percent of market share.
The coalition plans to work with legislative partners and the Governor to recognize the benefits to the region’s economy of keeping Puget Sound ports competitive and healthy. Goals of the coalition include making capital improvements at both ports and to regain market share.
Watch for follow up reports as legislative proposals to the legislature are formulated before the 2019 session starts on January 14.