Trade Issues Critical to Washington’s Future

On behalf of trade active Washingtonians – farmers, fishermen, ranchers, inventors, software and services suppliers, professionals, workers and small and large business owners, WCIT advocates for policies and investments to address international trade opportunities and concerns. Learn more about our policy positions here.

Support Washington State’s Economy through Smart Trade Policies

The Issue

Washington is the most trade-reliant state in the nation, with approximately 40% of all jobs tied to international commerce. As the economy slows significantly due to impacts from the coronavirus, it is critical to expand international trade and investment opportunities, promote market access for goods and services abroad, and eliminate barriers that impede the competitiveness of trade active Washingtonians. Bottom line, 95% of the world’s consumers live beyond U.S. borders, and Washington cannot forgo participating in a global economy.

WCIT Advocates

Federal leaders can help our economy rebound and get Washingtonians back to work through smart trade policy actions. First, to counter the devastating impact of recent trade wars, WCIT advocates removing tariff barriers, specifically Section 301 and Section 232 tariffs, which have invited our trading partners to retaliate. Second, while the COVID response will naturally change the nature of supply chains, we should avoid “Buy America” orders, which would immediately disrupt the ability to source, produce, and distribute critical supplies and medicines. Finally, we need to actively support new agreements that create market access for Washington state exports of goods and services.

Learn More

Read WCIT’s Letter on Trade and the Covid-19 response

Read WCIT Research Report: International Trade and the Global Pandemic: Impacts of COVID-19 on Washington’s Trade Economy

Advance Washington Trade Priorities with China

The Issue

As Washington’s top trading partner, China accounts for approximately 20% of all Washington state exports. Tariffs and retaliation in the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China have caused Washington diverse exports – including apples, cherries, wheat — to decline significantly.

WCIT Advocates

WCIT supports leveling the playing field for Washington state interests by seeking reforms, including market access and intellectual property protections that were part of the US-China Trade Agreement known as “Phase One.” Using tariffs as a weapon against China has gotten the attention of Chinese leaders. But tariffs are not a panacea for creating a better trading environment that works for Washington State’s interests. We need to continue to engage China in negotiations and ensure that agreements reached are valid and enforceable so that our businesses and farmers can build on the opportunities this market offers rather than fret over the risks ongoing disputes will have on their livelihoods.

Learn More

Read the WCIT research report The United States-China Trade Dispute: Implications for Washington State.

Strengthen Washington’s Ports and Our Freight Mobility Infrastructure

The Issue

Our state’s ports are a critical economic engine that employs tens of thousands of workers and contributes to our position as one of the country’s top exporting states. Through ocean shipping and air cargo, our ports handle goods from all 50 states. The Northwest Seaport Alliance is the second largest port in the country in agricultural trade tonnage. The ports of the lower Columbia River are the largest wheat export gateway in the U.S. Our ports also play a critical role in the national economy as nearly 60 percent of imported goods coming through the Northwest Seaport Alliance are bound for destinations outside the Pacific Northwest.

WCIT Advocates

To remain a global hub, our state’s ports must function efficiently, reliably, and competitively. WCIT advocates for investments in port-related infrastructure, reform of the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT), and operational predictability. WCIT also advocates for freight mobility investments that make local corridors efficient and reliable.

Learn More

Learn more at Washington Ports.

Ensure U.S. Export-Import (EXIM) Bank Operates at Full Capacity

The Issue

As the United States’ official export credit agency, the EXIM Bank offers export financing that enables Washington state’s small businesses and agriculture producers to make global sales competitive with less risk.

WCIT Advocates

WCIT applauds the Washington state congressional delegation for its ongoing support of the Bank and recent seven-year reauthorization to ensure the Bank is back to operating at full capacity. Many of our foreign competitors, such as China, Japan, and Germany, have robust, government-sponsored export financing programs that would have put U.S. exporters at a disadvantage if the Bank was not operational. Moreover, the EXIM Bank is a self-sustaining agency that operates at no net cost to U.S. taxpayers and, also, helps to support tens of thousands of Washington jobs and hundreds of local small businesses. WCIT wants to ensure that the Bank continues to be a critical tool for Washington state’s exporting interests.

Learn More

Read the WCIT research report The Export-Import Bank: Impact on Washington State Trade.

Expand Digital Trade Opportunities

The Issue

Today’s digital economy is enabling businesses and society in ways not previously envisioned. However, government policy is struggling to keep pace with the digital era. Structural, legal, or regulatory barriers, including restrictions on cross border data flows, server localization requirements, uneven liability regimes, and forced technology transfer inhibit or outright block digital products and services. Emerging issues, including France’s threat to impose new taxes on digital services, create additional barriers. Washington’s digital commerce exports totaled almost $2.9 billion between 2014 and 2018 helping support the nearly 250,000 jobs in the information, communications, and technology (ICT) sector and businesses throughout the state.

WCIT Advocates

We must modernize our trade agreements to harness the opportunities of the digital era. WCIT advocates a comprehensive approach through multilateral trade agreements modeled on provisions in the US-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Trade Agreement and the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (CPTPP). Multilateral negotiations and agreements, such as the negotiations on e-commerce underway at the World Trade Organization (WTO), can build on this progress and unlock digital trade’s full potential to drive growth across our region.

Learn More

Read the WCIT research report Washington State Digital Trade: Barriers and Opportunities.

Pursue Trade Agreements with the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Japan

The Issue

With 40 percent of Washington state jobs tied to international trade, the importance of modernizing and updating current agreements while pursuing new trade opportunities is vital to our economy. Barriers exist preventing U.S. businesses from competing on a level playing field in several foreign markets, and current agreements do not address the needs of the digital economy of the 21st century. Washington state’s top ten export markets include the United Kingdom, Japan, and Germany. Getting these trade relationships right is critical to our region. In addition to new agreements, we must continue to support the smart implementation of the ratified U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

WCIT Advocates

WCIT supports efforts for the U.S. to negotiate new market-opening trade agreements with Japan, the European Union, and the United Kingdom. WCIT will work with the Administration and Congress throughout the negotiations to ensure forthcoming discussions result in free and fair trade as well as adhere to the critical objectives outlined in Trade Promotion Authority. In addition to new agreements, WCIT was an early and strong supporter of the passage of the USMCA as a way to update and modernize NAFTA. WCIT advocates for the swift implementation of the USMCA in a way that meets the needs of the Washington state economy.

Learn More

Read WCIT’s USMCA research paper: The New U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Implications for Washington State.

Avoiding Trade Wars and Tariffs

The Issue

In recent years, international trade has been defined more by conflict than by agreement. With the increased imposition of tariffs as a weapon in international commerce, the current climate is both unstable and unpredictable, presenting challenges and potential harm to Washington state’s economy.

WCIT Advocates

Tariffs are a blunt instrument that usually do more harm than good and are an ineffective means to address important issues. We oppose a tariff-first strategy believing tariffs should be a last resort when all other viable options have been explored and fail. WCIT advocates for a comprehensive trade policy using all the tools at our disposal to level the playing field for Washington state companies. We prefer a more nuanced use of strategies that include diplomacy, shared self- interest, growing opportunities and markets rather than seeking to impose restrictions. Accordingly, WCIT favors bilateral and multilateral negotiations, the use of organizations like the World Trade Organization (WTO), and regional and bilateral agreements to advance Washington state’s interests.

Learn More

Read WCIT Research Report: How Global Disputes are Disrupting Trade in Washington State.

Supporting Trade through International Organizations

The Issue

Many international institutions have come under fire because of growing distrust of institutions generally, as well as issues related to enforcement and perceived fairness. The World Trade Organization, created in 1995 and built on the foundation of the 1947 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), has helped the modern trading world define and enforce the rules of the road.

WCIT Advocates

WCIT continues to support the rules-based trading system embodied by the World Trade Organization (WTO), and its dispute settlement system. Although it is reasonable to discuss WTO modernization and reforms, the need for the organization remains strong. WCIT believes that these issues are best addressed by continuing to press for improvements within the current system. WCIT also notes that new agreements, whether the USMCA or bilateral free trade agreements under negotiation, all use as a foundation the rules of the multilateral system.

Learn More

Read the Council on Foreign Relation’s piece, “How Are Trade Disputes Resolved?