WASHINGTON — Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, says a Federal Maritime Commission report released today shows that Pacific Northwest ports are losing business to Canada and called for action to address the root causes of the cargo diversion. Larsen is the top Democrat on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction on the issue in the House of Representatives.
“Pacific Northwest ports are facing an invisible blockade that is sending our business to Canada,” Larsen said. “The Federal Maritime Commission’s report shows we need to invest in our infrastructure to make our ports more competitive and take a hard look at reforming the inflexible Harbor Maintenance Tax which is putting our ports at a disadvantage.
Larsen led a letter with other members of Washington state’s Congressional delegation in September requesting the report. That letter is available here.
“With this report in hand, I will work with my colleagues to reform the Harbor Maintenance Tax so we can get more U.S.-bound cargo coming through our ports and get longshoreman, truckers and shippers back to work,” Larsen added.
As the report shows, a large number of U.S. imports from Asia are processed through Canadian ports before moving to the United States through cross-border rail. In meetings with port officials throughout the Pacific Northwest, Larsen has been told that the Harbor Maintenance Tax creates a significant competitive disadvantage for U.S. ports compared to Canadian ports. Canada does not have a comparable tax, which charges shippers $1.25 per $1,000 worth of cargo.
The report also notes that Canada and Mexico have a “strong national port policy and infrastructure strategy.” Larsen has been a strong advocate of a national freight policy and infrastructure investment as a way to create jobs and lay the foundation for economic growth.
The commission concluded that shippers that use non-U.S. ports do not violate U.S. laws, treaties or Federal Maritime Commission regulations.