Ports make smart move some thought impossible

The barriers were obvious. There were “turf” concerns, worries over political control, and fiefdoms to protect. The two sides won’t get past their suspicions, some thought.

Instead, the ports of Seattle and Tacoma overcame those barriers and announced a draft proposal for the Northwest Seaport Alliance. This new collaboration is a smart move that will help Seattle and Tacoma attract and retain Pacific shippers.

That’s important beyond just getting the container traffic business. Every ship that calls at our ports is a ship that can take Washington goods back across the Pacific. That keeps shipping rates low for our exporters, including farmers.

The shipping industry is changing rapidly, with shippers building bigger boats than ever to take advantage of the widened Panama Canal. Because of that, competition from East Coast ports is heating up at the same time that West Coast ports are eating into Seattle and Tacoma’s traffic. As the Times notes, for the first time in decades, British Columbia handled more container traffic than Seattle and Tacoma in 2014. They’re upgrading their rail lines to handle even more, too.

That’s why the undercutting that happened between the Seattle and Tacoma ports needed to come to an end. It was clearly time to band together to maximize Washington’s advantages and compete against other port regions, not each other.

Congratulations to those who worked to negotiate this draft agreement and move forward in a smart way. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, but the end result will be an alliance that is best for port taxpayers and the region.
-Rob McKenna

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Rob McKenna
Rob served two terms as Washington’s Attorney General, from 2005 to 2013. He successfully argued three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and negotiated three of the largest consumer financial protection settlements in national history, all involving mortgage lending and servicing. He is a recognized leader in the development of consumer protections on the internet, in data protection and privacy regulation.