APEC is advancing the inclusive growth we all seek in Washington

The following is an op-ed I ghost wrote for two former Governors and was published in the Seattle Times:

Special to The Seattle Times

As Seattle hosted the inaugural APEC meeting in 1993, Microsoft had just surpassed selling 25 million copies of Windows, Starbucks had launched 250 stores nationwide, Chukar Cherries had just opened in Pike Place Market and companies like Amazon, Expedia, and Zillow were not yet created.

Over the course of 30 years, our hometown companies have grown to more than a billion users on Windows, coffee at over 36,000 stores in more than 80 countries, and our companies are recognized in households across the world delivering online shopping and travel, cloud computing and a $4.99 rotisserie chicken.

As more than 3,000 senior officials and delegates from the 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation convene again from late July to mid-August, every Washingtonian has a stake in our state’s close ties with members of APEC as our jobs, small businesses, and companies are deeply connected.

The conference allows us to spotlight the Evergreen State and showcases our region’s thought leadership and values, deepens critical relationships, creates ongoing economic impact and supports the Emerald City’s restaurants and small businesses. The meeting comes as Seattle has surged once again to become the fastest-growing big city in the U.S. — driven by our innovative companies that are shaping the global economy in industry sectors such as aviation, clean energy, food, technology, life science, health and transportation. Our regional GDP is now a staggering $479 billion, establishing us as the ninth largest metro economy in the nation. This success would not be possible without connecting our innovation with free, fair and open trade with APEC’s member economies.

In Greater Seattle, our total trade with APEC member economies surpassed $1 trillion from 2012 to 2022, averaging over $90 billion annually, or 76% of the region’s total trade. Our deep connections have created jobs and fueled economic engines such as Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and our deep water ports in Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett — these are some of the largest global connectors and international gateways in North America.

As governors, we’ve seen the impact of trade both here and overseas. Abroad, we’ve promoted Rainier cherries in South Korea, french fries in Vietnam, and Almond Roca in Beijing. This was made possible solely by the hard work of Washingtonians: our farmers, entrepreneurs and workers. Right here at home, our trade relationships support more than 931,000 Washington jobs and 12,000 small businesses who produce and export billions of dollars of recognized products the world wants and needs.

To see the dependence of jobs on exports and trade, one only needs to look at Boeing, where 70% of their planes are sold to foreign airlines. Boeing’s 64,000 employees here in Washington, and the employees of its more than 1,000 suppliers across our region, would be dramatically fewer without these exports. These workers are not only our friends, neighbors, and family, but they support so many more jobs in our region as they visit their favorite coffee shops, restaurants and small businesses. This impact is repeated with companies large and small in our state.

APEC also plays a vital role in shaping our economy by providing an opportunity for all of us to collaborate and develop solutions to complex challenges such as climate change, digital access, energy diversification, gender inequities, global health and regulatory practices. Our state is leaning into many of these challenges to effect positive change and create more equitable prosperity across Washington, but we will accomplish much more when we work collaboratively with global partners.

As governors, we have seen how Washington state’s workers and families benefit from robust trade partnerships. We have heard from business and labor leaders alike that strong global demand for our products bolsters our economy. We share a rich history and connectivity with the Asia-Pacific region, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to grow our economic ties within APEC, recognizing the significant benefits that such engagement brings to our workers, families, and businesses. By fostering strong public and private partnerships and encouraging participation in APEC, we will ensure sustainable and inclusive economic growth for now and the next great Seattle companies.  

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