Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves joined Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) officials and other trade actors at a recent round table in Seattle to discuss Washington State funding for transportation infrastructure, tariff cuts, agricultural exports and job creation.
“The Ministry of Commerce’s mission is to encourage and empower entrepreneurs to create well-paying jobs,” said Graves during the discussion on Friday after a tour of Terminal 5, according to a press release. “We want our legacy to be a division for people and communities because people and communities drive our economy.”
NWSA is an operational partnership for ocean freight between the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. While the two ports remain separate organizations and retain ownership of their respective assets, they manage container, breakbulk, auto and multiple bulk terminals under one development agency.
“There is an important relationship between imports and exports and the NWSA is excited to help the federal government find solutions to benefit our gateway, farm producers, business and workers, and the general US economy,” said John Wolfe, CEO of NWSA.
NWSA handled a total of 307,592 20-foot equivalent units in July, up 13.8% from July 2020. Volume year-to-date is up 18.2%.
Total trade of the Port of Tacoma with the world in July was $ 3.63 billion, while the Port of Seattle recorded $ 2.82 billion, according to statistics from the US Census Bureau Cosmopolitan city.
The main exports of the Port of Tacoma in July were corn, potatoes (prepared or frozen) and hay. The three main imports were cars, auto parts and toys (children’s bikes and games).
The Port of Seattle’s main exports in July were corn, civil aircraft parts, and potatoes. The main imports were automotive parts, toys and furniture parts.
Mark Powers, President of the Northwest Horticultural Council, said his organization’s members export 30% of the tree fruits they produce.
The Northwest Horticultural Council, based in Yakima, Washington, is a not-for-profit trade association that represents the apple, pear, and cherry fruit industry in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington on state and international political and regulatory affairs.
A major challenge for exporters is tariffs, which have reduced the ability to export to certain markets by 80%, Powers said.
“Current supply chain problems are limiting the ability of goods to get to market,” said Powers. “Any help from the federal government to support agricultural exports is appreciated by [the council]. “
Seattle Port Commissioner Sam Cho spoke about the importance of federal infrastructure
Means and an accurate forecast of the needs for future port growth.
In order to be good administrators of public money, ports want to make important investments that meet the growing demand so as not to be left without the necessary infrastructure or to invest and underutilize the capacities in the gateway, said Cho.
Another important topic was personnel development. The pipeline for both the maritime and aviation sectors could soon be at a bottleneck, port officials said.
Graves said the Department of Commerce is working with the Department of Labor to develop employee initiatives to support critical parts of the U.S. economy with the aim of attracting trained and certified individuals, especially youth, to transportation jobs.
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