To Get U.S. Goods to Overseas Markets Faster, Cantwell Calls On President to Add DOT Secretary to Export Cabinet

Coordinated transportation modernization key to doubling US exports, creating jobs, making U.S. ports more competitive

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) called for the development of a national freight mobility plan to support President Barack Obama’s goal to double exports in the next five years.  In a letter to President Obama, Cantwell proposed adding the Secretary of Transportation to the roster of official’s in the President’s ‘export cabinet,’ because of the critical role of transportation infrastructure in moving exports. And at today’s Senate Finance Committee hearing – “Doubling U.S. Exports: Are U.S. Sea Ports Ready for the Challenge?” – Cantwell called for infrastructure improvements throughout the transportation supply chain, including road, rail, and sea transportation, and for the removal of bottlenecks to rapidly increase exports. 


“With the development of a national freight plan, it will be possible to meet the President’s goals and double our exports in the next five years,” said Senator Cantwell. “We must examine how road, rail, sea, air and pipelines interact, and adjust to achieve our goals.  Our nation’s ports, especially those in Washington state, have the capacity to grow exponentially, but they cannot if those exports are unable reach the port.”

Washington state boasts one of the most robust export economies in the nation.  In 2009, Washington was fourth in the nation for exports and first in the nation for exports per capita. In 2009, Washington state exported $51 billion worth of goods.  One in three Washington jobs depends on trade.


"Ports depend on an efficient national transportation system to move cargo - and to protect the family-wage jobs that cargo creates," said Phil Lutes, Port of Seattle Deputy Managing Director. "We are grateful to Senator Cantwell for her leadership in keeping America's ports competitive."

“Senator Cantwell has always shown an interest and leadership in the issues related to the Port of Vancouver and the Southwest Washington region in general,”
said Port of Vancouver Executive Director Larry Paulson.  “She understands that critical investments in our port infrastructure will greatly increase our country’s competitiveness, support economic growth and jobs.”


Cantwell today sent President Obama a letter on the importance of increasing exports to create jobs and grow our economy.  In the letter, sent today, Cantwell calls on Obama to add Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to his Export Promotion Cabinet.. 

“To meet such an ambitious goal of doubling U.S. exports over the next five there needs to be not only government-wide participation, but commitment at the highest level of each Department and Agency,” Cantwell wrote. “One critical element that appears to have been overlooked is the role that domestic transportation policy has in ensuring that the majority of the products our nation exports arrives at- and departs our seaports quickly, efficiently, and at the lowest cost possible. For that reason, I urge you to make the Secretary of Transportation a permanent member of your Export Promotion Cabinet.”


Last month, Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani and Port of Tacoma Executive Director John Wolfe sent Commerce Secretary Gary Locke a letter with concrete ideas to support export expansion.  The suggestions included soliciting comments from stakeholders throughout the nation, leading the Export Promotion Cabinet to work with other federal agencies to address shortage of export containers and employee international trade specialists with expertise in logistics. 

President Obama has called for doubling U.S. exports in the next five years during his State of the Union address in January.  Lutes and Paulson both testified at the hearing.