U.S. Regulator Approves Alliance Between Ports of Seattle and Tacoma

Port of Seattle, image (c) Stefan Wolczko
Port of Seattle, image (c) Stefan Wolczko


The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has voted to unanimously to allow an alliance between the ports of Tacoma and Seattle that is to become effective as scheduled on Thursday, July 23, 2015.

The Commission’s decision is based on a determination that the agreement is not likely, by a reduction in competition, to produce an unreasonable increase in transportation cost or an unreasonable reduction in transportation service.

The alliance, known Northwest Seaport Alliance, authorizes the two ports to meet, discuss, and reach agreement on the management, use and operation of their marine cargo business, including joint business planning and marketing to further develop infrastructure and improve productivity. The agreement authorizes establishment of a Port Development Authority (PDA), effective August 1, 2015, to promote and assist economic development of the Alliance’s marine cargo operations. The PDA will focus on unified business retention and recruitment; coordinated enhancement of the value of marine cargo properties; improved intermodal rail service; improved freight capacities; the general promotion of maritime economic development; and other related Port business activity.

The Alliance represents an effort by two ports that have faced challenges in regional business development and plan to overcome these challenges by coordinating capital investments in order to enhance facilities in order to attract larger vessels. The Alliance’s focus on upgrading its terminal facilities and rail connections is key to furthering its competitive position, the FMC said.

FMC Chairman Cordero commented, “I would like to express my support for the Northwest Seaport Alliance which brings together neighboring ports to coordinate their import and export functions that provide a foundation for our Nation’s foreign oceanborne trade. This Alliance would become the third-largest trade gateway in North America, behind the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the Port of New York/New Jersey. The Pacific Northwest is a key region for inbound and outbound United States cargo, moving cargo not only for the regional trade, but also cargo headed to destinations throughout the entire U.S. Midwest, and this Alliance will help the region remain competitive into the future.”