Agricultural exports, such as grain shipments moving through the new EGT terminal in Longview, Wash., are leading the economic recovery, the chief agricultural negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said Monday.
Islam Siddiqui, speaking at the EGT grand opening ceremonies, said U.S. agricultural exports in 2011 reached a record high of $137.4 million. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is projecting near-record exports this year.
EGT has been scaling up operations since receiving its first export vessel in February. The bulk terminal has received more than 20 vessel calls and has shipped more than 1 million tons of grain since then. The terminal has an annual throughput capacity of 8 million metric tons.
EGT began shipping grain in February after a year-long jurisdictional dispute with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. EGT had attempted to open the terminal with labor represented by another union, and that set off months of demonstrations by the ILWU and the arrest or detention of ILWU members, including International President Robert McEllrath.
Charges were filed against McEllrath for attempting to block a grain train from entering the terminal. That case was heard last month in Cowlitz County District Court, but the jury failed to reach a verdict.
EGT earlier this year reached an agreement with the ILWU, and the facility has been manned by dockworkers represented by the union since the first vessel call in February.
CEO Larry Clarke told the grand opening ceremonies Monday the terminal’s innovative design features and modern technology will help to speed U.S. exports to market.
“In our industry, efficiency and speed are critical to success,” Clarke said.