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July 23, 2010

The Honorable Gary Locke


US Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20230

Dear Secretary Locke,

We are writing to express the support of the US West Coast Collaboration (USWCC) for the National
Export Initiative (NEI) and the new vision for US economic competitiveness it represents. We are eager
to contribute to the success of the NEI and to help you achieve the administration’s goal of creating two
million jobs by doubling US exports within five years. With this letter we are responding to the
administration’s request for comment on the development of the NEI.

The USWCC consists of the six major West Coast container ports (Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland,
Portland, Seattle and Tacoma), the BNSF Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad (because of pressing
time constraints, the BNSF Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad are not participating in this letter).
Together our Collaboration handles two-thirds of US international trade and we are among the largest
employers in the western United States, employing directly and indirectly more than 145,000 people.
Businesses that provide millions of additional trade-dependent jobs throughout the US also rely on our
freight infrastructure to connect to global markets. With this in mind, we have undertaken billions of
dollars worth of infrastructure improvements, and we are leading implementers of technologies and
business processes that are greening global supply chains. These efforts will help ensure that trade and
the jobs it supports can be both environmentally and economically sustainable for decades to come.

With exports alone accounting for 40 percent of US real GDP growth since 2005, it is safe to say that
trade is a vital component of the American economy. Yet for many years trade competitiveness has not
been prioritized in a way that is commensurate with the impact it has on our nation. In addition, US
trade promotion efforts have been characterized by the tendency of states and municipalities to
compete with each other to the detriment of our country as a whole. We applaud your embrace of trade
as a means to create jobs and achieve economic recovery. In support of your efforts, we offer the
following suggestions for how the Obama Administration can make progress toward achieving your
export goals:

 Increase the representation of the freight transportation industry in the NEI. US transportation
infrastructure has a direct impact on the competitiveness of US products overseas and as such it
should be considered within the scope of the NEI. When our ports lose market share or when
freight infrastructure deteriorates, it erodes the relative advantages our exporters have traditionally
enjoyed, such as lower transportation costs, more frequent calls by ocean carriers, shorter time to
market, and greater container availability. Any plan to increase exports would be incomplete
without an ample infrastructure component. We were encouraged by the announcement that the
Export Promotion Cabinet would consult with the Department of Transportation as you formulate
your strategy. We request you build on this foundation by proactively engaging the transportation
industry in all NEI activities. The regional meetings that have been scheduled for this summer to
follow up on last year’s successful US Supply Chain Summit, which was hosted by the departments
of Commerce and Transportation, offer a good way to continue the dialogue on the importance of
infrastructure to goods movement both for export and import.

 Advocate for the formulation of a national freight movement program. Despite its importance to
exports, the US lacks a strategic vision for freight movement. In contrast, the Canadian federal
government is pursuing a highly coordinated infrastructure development program, which is
targeting US goods movement jobs as an economic development strategy. As a result of these
efforts, new and growing Canadian ports are rapidly gaining market share at the expense of US ports.
This is relevant to exports because every port call that moves north to Prince Rupert reduces the
amount of containers and space on ships available to West Coast exporters, a phenomenon that is
exacerbating the current container shortage.

If we want exports to become a more significant component of our 21st century economy, the US
needs to adopt a comprehensive approach to developing a more competitive freight infrastructure.
The national vision and multi-modal focus of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic
Recovery (TIGER) program was a step in the right direction, and the US West Coast Collaboration
supports the continuation of this program. But a longer-term strategy is needed if we are to ensure
that American exporters continue to have access to the world-leading infrastructure on which our
prosperity has relied so heavily. We urge the Export Promotion Cabinet to lead the way in
advocating for a national goods movement program and to see to it that the interests of exporters
and the rest of the freight community are reflected in the pending Surface Transportation
Reauthorization.

 Work with other federal agencies and private industry to address the shortage in export
containers and ship capacity. The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) recently announced interim
results of their investigation into the lack of available containers for exports, which is constraining
the ability of US shippers to move goods overseas. Meanwhile, the export equipment shortage
continues: The Agriculture Transportation Coalition estimates that American farmers could be
exporting twenty percent more product if only they could secure the containers and the space on
container ships. While these problems are the jurisdiction of other agencies and may ultimately
require private-sector solutions, we urge you to monitor the results of the FMC study and work with
other agencies and interested parties to resolve these issues.
 Employ shipping and supply chain industry experts overseas to assist US businesses and public
ports in increasing market share in key export markets. We applaud the proposal in the President’s
2011 budget to hire 300 new international trade specialists in support of the NEI. We suggest that a
portion of these specialists have expertise in logistics so that US export businesses benefit from their
knowledge in efficient goods movement and the workings of foreign markets in which these
businesses aim to compete.

The USWCC recognizes the significance of the steps the Administration already has taken to promote
trade. We urge you to continue your leadership in this area and to make the tough decisions necessary
to achieve real progress. We hope you will consider our suggestions, and we look forward to an ongoing
dialogue with you about these important issues.

Sincerely,

Geraldine Knatz, PhD Dick Steinke


Executive Director Executive Director
Port of Los Angeles Port of Long Beach

Omar Benjamin John Wolfe


Executive Director Chief Executive Officer
Port of Oakland Port of Tacoma

Tay Yoshitani Bill Wyatt


Chief Executive Officer Executive Director
Port of Seattle Port of Portland