NWSA fears impact of tariffs on Washington

The NWSA is a marine cargo-operating alliance of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma Photo: kiewic/flickr/CC BY 2.0 The NWSA is a marine cargo-operating alliance of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma Photo: kiewic/flickr/CC BY 2.0

The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) has expressed fears that US President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium could result in wide “negative economic consequences for” the US state of Washington.

In a release from the organisation, a marine cargo-operating alliance of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, partnership officials condemned the new levies, warning that jobs in the state were under threat.

Speaking about the new taxes, Courtney Gregoire, Port of Seattle commission president and NWSA co-chair, said: “Higher tariffs will jeopardise 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.”

Don Meyer, who is also a NWSA co-chair as well as being the Port of Tacoma commission president, said: “Just as concerning as these blanket tariffs is the potential for retaliatory tariffs on exports of Washington agricultural and manufactured goods.

“As a state in which 40% 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.”

There has been widespread concern about the levies, including fears that they could cause retaliatory tariffs to be imposed on US exports.

Important commodities

In 2017, the NWSA imported over 1.8bn dollars’ worth of iron or steel, alongside more than $557m in aluminium, while the organisation is currently the second-biggest export gateway for overall agricultural and forest products in the US.

Exports of overall agricultural and forest products in the country had a value of over $6.8bn in 2016, constituting 76% of NWSA containerised exports.

The former Washington Grain Commission chair and current U.S. Wheat Associates chairman, Mike Miller, has also given his view on the tariffs for the state of Washington, saying: “Washington farmers export 80% to 90% 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.”

On the same day that the NWSA put out their release, March 8, President Trump signed orders placing tariffs of 25% and 10% on US imports of steel and aluminium respectively.

The taxes, which contain exemptions for Mexico and Canada, were due to take effect 15 days after the day the orders were signed.

The President has claimed that the US has “unfair trade” and that the decision would boost US industry.

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