The Northwest Seaport Alliance, a joint venture between the ports of Tacoma and Seattle, raised concerns that new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum could lead to broad negative economic consequences for Washington state.
The tariffs were officially imposed by the Trump Administration on March 8 as part of a plan to boost domestic manufacturing by imposing tariffs of 25 pct on imported steel and 10 pct on imported aluminum.
Steel and aluminum imports through the NWSA and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, operated by the Port of Seattle, exceeded USD 2.5 billion in value in 2017, the alliance said.
Those imports either go directly to Washington-based manufacturers or are processed through logistics services and routed to other destinations in the United States.
“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 crosshairs.”
“Just as concerning as these blanket tariffs is the potential for retaliatory tariffs on exports of Washington agricultural and manufactured goods,” added Don Meyer, Port of Tacoma commission president and NWSA co-chair.
“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.”
NWSA joins numerous other U.S. ports which are also worried about the impact of the new tariffs on their cargo flow, such as Port Houston and Port of New Orleans.
Many trade experts also are raising concerns that new U.S. tariffs on imports could lead to retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports.
“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, “ said Mike Miller, former chair of the Washington Grain Commission and current chairman of the U.S. Wheat Associates.
“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.”
“The retail industry is extremely concerned by the administration’s apparent desire to ignite a trade war, where the net losers will be the very people the president wants to help. On top of steel and aluminum tariffs, retailers are troubled by the direction of the ongoing NAFTA negotiations and the threat of additional tariffs on consumer goods from China.
“The true greatness of America cannot be realized when we build walls blocking the free flow of commerce in today’s global economy,” the National Retail Federation (NRF) of the United States said in a statement on Thursday.