Senators from the State of Washington are introducing legislation that would strip away one of the competitive advantages Canadian ports hold over their U.S. counterparts.
Presently, containers unloaded in Canada and shipped to the U.S. are free of any additional fees or levies while containers unloaded in the United States are subject to the Harbour Maintenance Tax (HMT), which is used to fund operation and maintenance of large and small ports across the country. What Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are proposing is legislation that would abolish the HMT and replace it with a Maritime Goods Movement User Fee that would be applied to every container coming into the U.S. by truck or rail.
According to Senator Cantwell, who was joined at the announcement by Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani, and Port of Tacoma CEO John Wolfe, part of the reason behind introducing the legislation next month is the success of Fairview Terminal in Prince Rupert.
“Currently the HMT makes it harder for our ports to compete with Prince Rupert to the North – or the Port of Lazaro Cardenas to the South. The threat is real. The Federal Maritime Commission found that up to 27 per cent of container volume moving through West Coast ports is at risk of diverting to Prince Rupert,” she said.
“This would level the playing field for our ports and protect our jobs here in Washington … We’re ready to hit the ground running with our bill when we get back to D.C. in September.”
A Seattle Times article reported the levy would be approximately $109 per container. Should the legislation move forward, the senators expect more money would be available to maintain and improve American ports.
The Prince Rupert Port Authority declined to comment on the proposed legislation.