Seattle summit addresses trade’s shifting landscape

Apr 24, 2019
Written by Renée Sunde, President & CEO

The shifting landscape of U.S. trade policy was the over-arching topic at the 2019 Washington Council of International Trade Summit held yesterday in Seattle.  President & CEO Renée Sunde joined the U.S. Chamber leadership and partners from around the region to hear from Washington State congressional representatives and experts in trade and policy speak about the impacts tariffs and uncertainty have on Washington’s economy.

Washington State is one of the most trade-dependent states in the nation and our economy depends on our ability to competitively export products.  These exports help to leverage global supply chains to create affordable goods that can be sold across the country and globally.  High tariffs on apparel imports, e-commerce barriers, and other trade obstacles reduce our retailers’ competitiveness.

Washington is home to some of the world’s largest and most loved retailers; companies such as Costco, Eddie Bauer, Nordstrom, Outdoor Research, REI, Zulily, Zumiez, Amazon and others. According to the WCIT Policy Factsheet, many of these retailers are facing steep tariffs on their imports. The data indicates since 99% of shoes and 98% of apparel is produced outside of the United States Because the U.S. garment industry is so small, these tariffs do not protect American jobs but rather drive up costs for consumers.

Imports not only help consumers stretch their incomes and improve their quality of life but also create good jobs at Washington’s many retailers.  These jobs include highly paid fields such as research and development, product design merchandising, marketing, supply chain, logistics and many more.

Reducing trade barriers that hamper retailers’ competitiveness can enable Washington retailers to compete on a global scale and create local good jobs.1

1 WCIT, Grow Washington Retailers’ Competitiveness Policy Factsheet