The Symbiosis of Trade and Transportation
Did you know that Washington State exports more goods to China that it imports? How about the fact that 90% of exported goods from the state come from small and medium-size businesses? Did you know that the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle support over 300,999 port-related jobs across the state? With statistics like these, it’s no wonder that trade and transportation are critical to workers, consumers, and businesses.
This week we traveled to Everett, Washington to highlight the impacts, evaluate the opportunities, and discuss the futures of trade and transportation needs in Washington. As the 4th largest exporter in America, the state relies on being able to effectively move people and goods. But this is no small feat and it’s only getting more difficult. We have to wake up to our growing infrastructure challenges and the importance of opening up our markets if we are going to remain competitive globally.
That means passing legislation like the Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Washington exported $30.9 million in goods to Colombia in 2007, an increase in 65% since 2003. Right now these goods are taxed upon entry. But if Congress passes the FTA, 80% of all U.S. consumer and industrial exports to the country will be duty-free immediately, offering tremendous opportunities for Washington exporters and leveling the playing field on which all American businesses compete.
It also means investing in infrastructure to move efficiently move these goods. About 26% of the state’s 7,600 bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete and 28% of the roads are in poor or mediocre condition. The state’s rail system is expected to seen an increase in total freight tonnage by 60% in the next twenty years, without insufficient infrastructure to support this growth. It’s time that the federal government address our crumbling transportation infrastructure by passing legislation to ensure the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund so that the funding guarantees in SAFETEA-Lu can be met in 2009.
Without proper attention to these two very important and symbiotic issues, our nation’s economic health, competitive advantage, and quality of life are at risk.