After decades of fierce competition, the leaders of the US ports of Seattle and Tacoma have announced they will form an alliance to jointly manage the marine cargo business of both ports.
Currently, Seattle and Tacoma face the same problem; as ships get bigger, terminal infrastructure needs to be improved to stay competitive.
Stephanie Bowman, co-president of the Port of Seattle Commission said: “Where we were once rivals, we now intend to be partners. Instead of competing against one another, we are combining our strengths to create the strongest maritime gateway in North America.”
Port of Seattle commissioner Bill Bryant said: “Both Seattle and Tacoma were losing market share. This is a way to compete with British Columbia and not with each other. This is all about keeping jobs in Washington.”
The ports have said there are no plans to lay off employees at either port and the alliance does not include Seattle’s airport, cruise-ship terminal, fishermen’s terminal or waterfront properties.
According to the Port of Seattle CEO Ted Fick: “This is one of the best things we could have done right out of the gate. It
allows us to enjoy the benefits of a merger without the entanglements of that kind of structure.”
The historic rivalry between Seattle and Tacoma grew stronger in 2012 when a consortium of three shipping lines — Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd, Japan’s NYK Line and OOCL of Hong Kong — switched from the Port of Seattle to the Port of Tacoma.
Moving forward, both port commissions will hold their scheduled public meetings to provide updates and hear comments on the seaport alliance as it moves through the federal approval process.
Both commissions plan to formally vote on the alliance and submit it for preliminary approval to the federal maritime commission next week.
Final approval is to be requested in March after six months of working out the details, such as how to split the profits and the costs.