Follow us:

Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

December 11, 2012 at 10:46 AM

Hanjin a critical win for Port of Seattle

When the Port of Seattle lost the Grand Alliance shipping lines, followed by Hamburg Sud, to Tacoma earlier this year, it cost the seaport at least 20 percent of its container business. The port has dodged another blow by keeping the South Korean line Hanjin Shipping, with a lease extension by Total Terminals at Terminal 46 through 2025.

To stay, Hanjin will get a $4 million fee, funded from seaport operating revenues, and up to $35 million in capital improvements. The port will also make concessions on the rate structure. (The Puget Sound Business Journal first reported the details). This isn’t surprising considering Tacoma’s strong bargaining power, with stalwart taxpayer and political support for the seaport, excess capacity and a willingness to underbid any competitors for business. It’s also small compared with the economic impact of the container line.

The Port of Seattle did itself no favors in the labor dispute over working conditions of short-haul truckers. Although those truckers don’t work for the port, officials came off as aloof and unconcerned — and the protests happened during Grand Alliance bargaining. Seattle lacks much direct rail access to terminals. Still, the big challenge is Tacoma’s ability to underbid.

The port estimates that Terminal 46 generates 20 percent of its cargo traffic, as well as 3,200 jobs. Revenues from the operation are $370 million a year plus $24 million in state and local taxes.

If Seattle had lost Hanjin, it would have been a crippling blow to the container business, the port’s Century Agenda ambitions — and it would have rippled outward. One big effect would have been on the Seattle International Gateway yard of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, where containers are loaded onto rail cars. It also would have been the end of a long partnership: Hanjin has been operating in Seattle harbor since 1981, and have been at Terminal 46 since 1986.

[UPDATE] The deal was approved at this afternoon’s port commission meeting. Gael Tarleton, commission president, said, “We worked very hard to keep TTI in the Port of Seattle. The cargo handled at T-46 means thousands of jobs and economic benefit for our region, which gets us closer to achieving the goals of the Century Agenda, calling for increasing freight volume at the port to 3.5 million TEUs in the next 25 years.”

And Don’t Miss: Needed, a U.S. manufacturing policy || Clyde Prestowitz/Foreign Policy

Today’s Econ Haiku:

A slap on the wrist

The fine for HSBC

Too big to indict

Comments

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►