Cantwell Urges U.S. Trade Representative to Expand Exports to Help Washington State Growers Reach Markets

Cantwell: “The biggest economic opportunity for the United States is to sell things outside of the United States. That means you have to have market access, and you have to have trade.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, at a U.S. Senate Finance hearing on President Biden’s 2022 Trade Policy Agenda, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) urged U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to increase market access for Washington state exporters, including potato and apple farmers.

“That's what the people in my state want to hear. As a very trade dependent state, they want to know that we are fighting to increase market access. When you think about potatoes, when you think about some of these other products, it's more than 70% of the product is an export market,” said Cantwell. “I'm for labor rights, I’m for enforcement, I'm for capacity building. But why can't we be for opening market access right now and getting rid of tariffs, or at least getting the exclusions done on time?”

Senator Cantwell previously asked Ambassador Tai to prioritize opening up new markets to help Washington state apple farmers during the initial confirmation hearing in February 2021.

“We're working hard to get a bill to increase our export capacity as it relates to the supply chain that we're going to build here in the United States and build great products. So we're going to do everything that we can. But trade changes culture. Trade helps us build partnerships around the globe,” Cantwell concluded at today’s hearing.

Senator Cantwell is a leader in expanding trade opportunities for Washington state exporters and has fought tirelessly to secure both long and short-term solutions to the shipping and supply chain crisis. As Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Senator Cantwell advanced and championed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022, which the Senate passed today by unanimous consent.

Earlier this month, Senator Cantwell met with local Washington state farmers and USDA Undersecretary Moffitt in Seattle to announce a new pop-up port site at the Port of Seattle to allow Washington state exporters to pre-position dry and refrigerated agricultural containers to boost exports that have been stalled due to port congestion.

Video of today’s Senate Finance hearing is available HERE, audio HERE, and a transcript HERE.

Video from the pop-up port event with Washington state growers is available HERE, and transcript HERE.