Washington Ports Criticize Trump Steel Tariffs


The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA), a joint venture that forms the fourth-largest maritime shipping gateway in North America, has raised concerns about President’s Trump’s new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

In another protectionist move, Trump has made a presidential proclamation to adjust imports of steel into the US.

The decision came after the US Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, advised Trump that an adjustment to the imports of steel would improve the country's national security as current levels are “weakening” its internal economy.

However, an announcement by the NWSA, which combines the ports of Tacoma and Seattle, has warned that the tariffs will cause “broad negative economic consequences” on the Washington state.

Steel and aluminum imports through the NWSA totalled more than US$ 500 million for aluminum and almost $1.9 billion for iron and steel in 2017.

Those imports either go directly to Washington-based manufacturers or are processed through logistics services and routed to other destinations in the US.

Courtney Gregoire, Port of Seattle Commission President and Co-Chair of the NWSA, said: “Higher tariffs will jeopardize 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, Port of Tacoma Commission President and NWSA Co-Chair, commented: “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.”

Many trade experts also are raising concerns that new US tariffs on imports could lead to retaliatory tariffs on US exports.

The NWSA is the second-largest export gateway for overall agricultural and forest products in the US.

In 2016, the value of the goods added up to more than $6.8 billion, making up 76% of NWSA containerized exports.

While the exact potential for retaliatory tariffs from impacted trading partners is unclear, major steel and aluminum importers are also significant Washington trading partners.

Canada, Mexico, China and the European Union account for 50% of the destinations for exports through the Port of Seattle seaport, 45% through Sea-Tac — Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and 37% of the destinations through the Port of Tacoma.

Mike Miller, Former Chair of the Washington Grain Commission and current Chairman of the US Wheat Associates, said: “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.

“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.”

Read more: Members of the US maritime industry have expressed mixed reactions to the White House’s newly-released US$ 200 million 10-year national infrastructure rebuilding plan

Daily Email Newsletter

Sign up to our daily email newsletter to receive the latest news from Port Technology International.

Supplier Directory

Find out how to get listed

Webinar Series

Find out how to attend

Latest Stories

Cookie Policy. This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.