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2024 WCIT Trade Summit Recap

WCIT hosted its annual Trade Summit on May 29, 2024, in Seattle, bringing together a diverse group of experts to tackle critical issues in international trade and help to answer how the Northwest can continue to grow its trade economy and the jobs it supports.

Lori Otto Punke, WCIT President, summarized the day, “Global trade is multi-faceted – numerous influences are always at play. Understanding the interplay is crucial. As war, contentious geopolitics, a presidential election on the horizon, ongoing friction with our crucial trading partners, and domestic politics that shape trade priorities, it is difficult to see what is on the horizon through the fog.

“Hearing insights and predictions from those making policy decisions and global experts gave attendees a better view of the landscape to inform their own decisions.”

Dialogues with our members of Congress are always a highlight of the Summit. Joining us this year were U.S. Representatives Suzan DelBene, Derek Kilmer, and Marilyn Strickland and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over several issues critical to international trade. Mindi Lindquist, Senator Patty Murray’s chief of staff, also spoke. Interestingly, one of Mindi’s first jobs was at the Port of Kalama.

Michael Froman, President of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former U.S. Trade Representative for President Obama, joined us to discuss the impact of the geopolitical landscape on international trade. Following him, Ambassador Doug McKalip, Chief Agricultural Negotiator at USTR, spoke about the President’s trade priorities, the outlook for trade agreements over the next 18 months, and some specifics on agricultural trade. He then joined a panel, moderated by Lilia McFarland Horder, an expert in agriculture and trade policy, with Riley Bushue, Northwest Horticultural Council and John Hannah, Pacific Valley Foods. They dug into some specifics on exporting food from the Northwest and what can be done to expand exports.

Internationally-recognized trade experts from both sides of the aisle, Everett Eissenstat and Peter Harrell, joined Ted Alden of Foreign Policy magazine and Western Washington University to look at trade in North America and beyond.

The final panel of the day included insights and discussions on our Northwest ports with Commissioner Kristin Ang, Port of Tacoma, Glen Bachman, Port of Everett, and Sam Cho, Port of Seattle.

The insights and discussions from the Summit will guide WCIT’s next steps in advocating for policies and help WCIT members understand how to navigate the ever-changing waters of international trade. WCIT members interested in joining us for our 2024 DC Fly-In can now register with an early-bird discount.

A big thank you to all attendees, panelists, and sponsors for their participation and contribution to the success of the WCIT 2024 Trade Summit.

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