May 20, 2019
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed
Federal Issues

Trade relations ease with Canada and Mexico, but no resolution with China in sight

There was both optimistic and unsettling news on the trade front last week.

In North America, trade tensions are easing between the United States and Mexico and Canada. The Trump administration eased tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from its neighbors, and those countries are reciprocating by easing off of retaliatory tariffs that have been in place for the last year.

Among other sectors, the resolution with Mexico and Canada will help American whiskey producers by ending their retaliatory tariffs slapped on U.S. spirits, although the industry still faces trade hurdles with its biggest market, the European Union.

Looking westward over the Pacific, however, shows no signs of resolution in the growing trade disputes between the U.S. and China.

Both sides appear to be settling in for a long battle, with Americans asked to show "economic patriotism" and with Chinese leader Xi Jinping issuing a "Long March" rallying cry to his citizens.

With the Trump administration pushing for protection of American intellectual property --including its decision Thursday to blacklist the Chinese telecom giant Huawei -- and the Chinese saying there is "no rush" to resume talks, the state of trade between the world's two largest economies remains uncertain.

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Housing Forum
Moving Backward

Gov. Inslee is wrong to flip-flop on liquefied natural-gas facility in Tacoma

By The Seatte Times Editorial Board

Gov. Jay Inslee is doing an outstanding job staying on message in his presidential campaign, making climate change his signature issue and a focus of the primaries.

But Inslee went too far last week when he pulled support for a project in Tacoma that will cut emissions and create jobs.

Early in his governorship, Inslee championed the Tacoma liquefied natural-gas (LNG) facility. That pragmatic, nuanced approach provided certainty for local companies to commit more than $500 million to a project that will substantially reduce emissions from ships sailing between Puget Sound and Alaska.

That stance no longer jibes with the current mantra of his far-left environmental base, which now advocates for halting additional fossil-fuel consumption. It also had put Inslee in conflict with one of the state's wealthiest tribes, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, which opposed the project.

Moving goal posts late in the game may discourage companies from innovating and investing in cleaner ways of doing business, at least in Washington....

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times
A New Challenge for Border Towns

Lawmakers changed the sales tax exemption. Will Oregon residents still want to shop Tri-Cities?

By The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board

Of all the new, last-minute tax measures approved by the Legislature two weeks ago, one in particular likely will cause headaches for Mid-Columbia retailers in coming months.

Oregon residents will no longer get a sales tax exemption right away at a Tri-Cities checkout counter.

Thanks to ESSB 5997, out-of-state shoppers will have to pay the sales tax upfront, save their receipts and file for a one-time, yearly reimbursement from the state of Washington.

They will qualify only if the amount they are requesting exceeds $25.

Clay Hill, government affairs director for the Association of Washington Business, said approval of ESSB 5997 was "especially disheartening" because there was a unified voice of opposition by business and retail organizations.

Democratic lawmakers are betting they will raise $53 million for a two-year budget from out-of-state shoppers who don't turn in their paperwork or who don't meet the $25 minimum threshold.

But it is the border communities that will pay the biggest price for the tax grab, and it isn't right to put the burden primarily on the edges of the state.

Read the full editorial in The Tri-City Herald
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