Earlier this month, the Business Institute of Washington’s website “The Lens” authored an article discussing Washington’s trade competitiveness and several imminent concerns that are essential components to the health and viability of this influential industry.
Notably the piece highlights comments from former U.S. Maritime Administrator Dave Matsuda, who has written extensively on the issue of maritime competitiveness and its role in ensuring a strong trade future for Washington. Citing issues such as the expanded State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) examination of infrastructure projects to include global emissions and a harbor maintenance tax in the U.S. that desperately needs reform, the former Obama administration official warns of the consequences that could befall the maritime sector – a foundational industry in Washington’s trade system – as other project in North America come online.
“The money will go elsewhere … Jobs will go elsewhere, entire supply chains can go elsewhere,” Matsuda said and noted that, “The state needs to be sure its port infrastructure keeps up with ever-larger container ships, as the Panama Canal is widened and companies could choose that route to the East Coast over stopping at Washington ports.”
For the Pacific Northwest there is tremendous opportunity for trade, ranging from energy commodities to technology and state regulators need to walk a fine line when it comes to policies and trade-industry investment. Predictability is the bedrock of private investment and a keystone for the health of any state’s economy. But the good news is communities can have both economic development and a healthy environment. Promoting trade while continuing to protect the Washington’s natural heritage is possible and will ensure that Washington not only maintains — but grows — its trade economy.