On Friday, the Lt. Governor Habib gave the keynote address at the annual Seattle Maritime Breakfast, the largest gathering of maritime industry partners in the state, and the culminating event of the annual weeklong Seattle Maritime Festival.
In discussing the future of maritime activity in Washington, a complex industry that adds nearly $38 billion dollars in revenue to our state each year, Lt. Governor Habib laid out the three areas that represent the greatest challenges and opportunities for the industry and for our economy: investment, innovation, and international engagement.
“Investment is key,” Lt. Governor Habib said. “We need to be putting in the resources to ensure our transportation systems and infrastructure can support our industries, and realize that investments in our waterways and ports are just as critical as our roads and bridges.”
On innovation, the Lt. Governor acknowledged Washington state’s leadership in promoting an environmentally responsible maritime economy. Washington state, he said, sets the global standard in the use of clean technology, and in the push for sustainable practices in all aspects of the industry — from commercial fishing, to shipbuilding and repair. He also acknowledged concerns from industry partners: despite Washington state’s prominence as a hub of innovative technology, e-commerce, and maritime culture, insufficient access to capital presents an ongoing challenge for maritime-related technology startups. In order to address these issues, the Lt. Governor asserted that the state and the industry must work together to take advantage of shared natural and economic assets — and create an environment that supports innovation and entrepreneurship, to further cement Washington state as a global leader.
Finally, Lt. Governor Habib discussed the importance of promoting and strengthening international engagement and rejecting anti-trade rhetoric dangerous to the health of Washington state’s trade-dependent economy, and to the millions of Washingtonians who work within it.
“Those in the maritime industry understand the importance of trade perhaps better than anyone else. Mariners were the first to bring commerce to other countries rather than war. They were the first to seek out mutually beneficial partnerships across the globe that brought greater understand and greater prosperity to all involved. That legacy is at the heart of what we do here in Washington state, led by the people in this room. We have to share the story of trade.”