Sen Cantwell: Trade Wars Damaging to Washington State

By:  Dylan Carder
Source: KPQ News

In a Senate Finance Committee hearing Wednesday, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) pressed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on the Trump Administration’s trade policies, which have resulted in retaliatory tariffs with detrimental impacts on Washington state’s agriculture, seafood, and maritime industries, among others.


“Mr. Secretary, I want you to hear me. Apples and cherries are getting hurt,” Senator Cantwell said. “Now, seafood, which again is also on short margin, is going to be in the same spot…. [W]hen we have trade wars it impacts the Washington economy in a major way.”


Recognizing the impact tariffs have had on small businesses and exporters throughout Washington state and around the country, Cantwell highlighted the challenges tariffs have created for American businesses and exporters in competing for market share and shelf space around the world.


“People who are farmers, who own small businesses – small business, individual business – who fight every day to get access to Asian markets, to India, to Canada, to Mexico, they believe in a trade policy that keeps moving forward,” Senator Cantwell said. “American agriculture can still win, but what they can’t win at is if you push them off a shelf space right now on a huge tariff.”


In closing, Senator Cantwell urged Secretary Ross and the Trump Administration to reconsider its trade policies.


“Trade wars are not good. They’re very damaging, and for the state of Washington, they are very damaging.”


Washington state is one of the most trade-dependent states in the country. Forty percent of jobs in the state are tied to international trade, representing roughly 1.5 million jobs. Recently, some of the state’s major exports, including French fries, representing $756 million in annual exports; apples, $721 million in annual exports; dairy products, $366 exported annually; and cherries, at $358 million in annual exports, have faced retaliatory actions by trading partners around the globe in response to trade actions initiated by the Trump Administration. Seafood has also faced retaliation from China; in 2017, the U.S. exported $1.3 billion worth of seafood to China, with more than 75 percent of those exports coming from Washington state and Alaska.


Senator Cantwell’s remarks come as she continues to advocate for foreign trade policies that support local businesses, economies, and communities throughout Washington state and around the country. In September 2017, Senator Cantwell led a bipartisan, bicameral group of Pacific Northwest lawmakers in writing a letter calling on the U.S. Trade Representative to defend farmers in the Pacific Northwest from retaliatory tariffs. In March 2018, she called out the Trump Administration for failing to adequately prioritize American exports and harming American consumers. And earlier this month, she led a bipartisan letter signed by members of the Washington state congressional delegation calling on the administration to address trade retaliation affecting the Washington state economy.