Op-Ed: Serious Threats to WA Ports

Maud Daudon, president and chief executive of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, and Sam Kaplan, president of the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, had an op-ed printed in the Seattle Times entitled “Wider Panama Canal Among Multiple Threats to Puget Sound Ports.”

There are serious issues that threaten Washington ports.  Among them are the widening of the Panama Canal, the Harbor Maintenance Tax, and competition.

  • The widening of the Panama Canal, scheduled to be completed in 2015, will double its capacity.  This will greatly increase the competitiveness of U.S. east coast ports–and they are investing in the infrastructure that is likely to take business away from the U.S. west coast.  Visions of Valparaiso, Chile are in order–one of the world’s great ports before 1914, it became a shadow of its former self following the opening of the Panama Canal.
  • The Harbor Maintenance Tax is a grossly unfair tax that taxes northwest ports to subsidize the dredging of competitor ports.  It makes the cost of business higher here (compared, for example, to the Prince Rupert port in BC, which doesn’t have the tax).  Puget Sound ports don’t need and don’t get much dredging money.
  • The competition is reacting.  The heavily subsidized Canadian Port of Prince Rupert is growing fast.  The Port of Los Angeles recently invested $3 billion in facilities.  Savannah has made massive investments in infrastructure.

Read the entire op-ed here.