Employers welcome Legislature’s effort to resolve trade dispute and support Washington exporters
OLYMPIA — Washington employers welcomed a move by state legislators to resolve an international trade dispute with the World Trade Organization, saying legislation introduced Wednesday in the state Legislature will protect the ability of the state’s exporters to compete in foreign markets by avoiding retaliatory tariffs.
“Washington is one of the most trade-driven states in the nation, and aerospace and agriculture products account for much of our exports,” said Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business. “We support policy that protects the ability not only of aerospace manufacturers but also farmers and growers throughout the state to compete fairly in the global marketplace. This is an important issue for Washington and for the United States, and we applaud Boeing and our state legislators for their leadership.”
The legislation introduced Wednesday by Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, and Rep. Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, is expected to resolve a long-running trade dispute between Europe and the United States. The lawmakers worked with Boeing to craft bills that will adjust the Business & Occupation (B&O) tax rate for aerospace manufacturers, resolving the sole issue in the WTO case against the United States. Without this action, American exporters could face the possibility of retaliatory tariffs.
Josh McDonald, executive director of the Washington Wine Institute, praised legislators for working to resolve an issue that stands to impact his industry. “As the nation’s second-largest wine producer, we know that a successful wine trade is critical for Washington state,” McDonald said. “We appreciate the leadership from our legislators to ensure the health of an industry that supports more than 1,000 wineries and 26,000-plus jobs.”
Alex McGregor, president of The McGregor Company, a 100-plus-year-old agriculture company that supports growers in Washington, Idaho and Oregon, likewise voiced support for the legislation.
“The farmers and people who serve them across the Northwest need the doors of trade to remain open,” McGregor said. “Any possibility of retaliatory tariffs would further harm an industry that’s faced significant challenges in the last several years. Trade has always been the lifeblood of our region and we welcome any attempt to support Washington farm families.”