Workers in home state of Boeing and Amazon will be losers in trade war: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

  • Washington state is home to some of the most successful companies in the world: Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon and Boeing.
  • It may not be thought of as a farm state, but its agricultural industry is huge, with more than $8 billion in exports.
  • $1.8 billion worth of Washington exports, including more than $1 billion in agricultural products, are expected to be hit by retaliatory tariffs.

Washington state consistently ranks as one of the best states to do business. Our state has shown that it is possible to grow your economy while investing in workers and protecting the things that make our state the most beautiful place to live and work.

In Washington we actively cultivate talent, connectivity and innovation. We embrace diversity and welcome hard-working people who come to the state seeking a better life for their families. Our universities conduct leading-edge research. World-class companies such as Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon and Boeing are changing the nature of commerce and creating thousands of good-paying jobs. Our agricultural growers produce some of the best-quality apples, cherries and wine in the world.

Part of our success is the result of the globally-oriented outlook of our companies. We depend on positive working relationships with our trading partners and access to foreign markets to sell our goods and services worldwide.

Unfortunately, the president’s erratic and unilateral moves undermine everything we’ve done to build up markets for our world-class products. The losers in these deals are Washington’s hard-working, job-creating manufacturers and growers and their customers.

Retaliatory tariffs from our trading partners will be soon be imposed on an estimated $1.8 billion worth of Washington exports, including more than $1 billion in agricultural products, according to the Washington State Department of Commerce.

As one of the most trade-focused states in the nation, there’s a lot at stake for Washington workers if the administration fails to work constructively through the multilateral trade system.

Washington’s top exports are aerospace products including civilian aircraft, engines and parts. Agriculture is another significant export with more than $8 billion of homegrown apples, cherries, hops, pears, wheat and potatoes shipped to foreign markets last year.

Washington’s ports are the closest mainland U.S. ports to Asia and the proximity means about two-thirds of all Washington agricultural exports are destined for Asia. The ports of Seattle and Tacoma are the third-largest gateway in North America. Any punitive tariffs to Asian markets are felt deeply in the Evergreen State.

But it isn’t just our trade relationships in Asia that are at risk. Last year, the state shipped about $2 billion in goods to Mexico, including dairy products and our world-famous apples. A trade war with Mexico hurts hard-working Washingtonians in places like Walla Walla and Yakima.

I’ve traveled to China and Japan where they rave about the quality of the cherries, apples and wine we sell in their stores. I’ve traveled to Italy and talked about the many opportunities for our companies to work together on building world-class airplanes. I’ve traveled to Mexico and heard first-hand how much they value our dairy products.

These trips are a reminder that the success stories of Washington’s businesses and growers can’t be taken for granted. Our state is home to the most talented workers in the world because we invest in making Washington the best place to learn, work and live. Companies who need talent know Washington state is where to find it. We’re the ones who build the best airplanes, cultivate the best wines, discover lifesaving medicines and design innovative clean energy technologies.

But if our workers and companies are hampered by costly trade policies, state efforts only go so far.

There is no question that we need to make sure that our trading partners abide by their obligations under international trade agreements. But ill-considered tariffs will only hurt Washington companies and other U.S. consumers and industries who rely on competitive access to foreign markets.

Jay Inslee, Democratic governor of Washington state. Washington ranked No. 2 in CNBC’s 2018 America’s Top States for Business study.

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