Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell want to “level the playing field,” and for good reason. Cargo containers off-loaded at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma are subject to something called the Harbor Maintenance Tax. Not so, containers with the same kind of stuff, arriving in British Columbia and shipped to destinations in the United States. Our ports are at a distinct financial disadvantage due to misplaced federal taxation, and that’s wrong. Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani estimated about 10,000 jobs are at risk from diversion of trade to Canada, said The Seattle Times.
Puget Sound ports are our state’s economic entry point and lifeline, so this should concern all of us. We are, as we are often reminded, one of the most trade-dependent states in the nation. Of course, the senators should seek a level playing field. Exports and imports mean wealth, income, jobs and eventually tax revenue. They will introduce a bill to shift the tax to cover containers shipped through foreign ports to destinations in the United States. That would put Prince Rupert, B.C., on an equal footing with Seattle and Tacoma.