Port of Tacoma

Tacoma, Seattle ports meet again in private session

The governing bodies of the ports of Tacoma and Seattle met again in private Tuesday morning at Sea-Tac Airport to discuss a planned alliance of their cargo operations and marketing.

The 8 a.m. meeting was the latest in a series of confidential meetings the two ports have held in the last two months. Those meetings are aimed at settling the particular details of combining the operations and marketing of the two ports’ container terminals under a single management organization.

The port commissions say they’re allowed to hold private executive sessions regarding the alliance because federal law allows private meetings to discuss planned mergers and alliances. An Olympia open meetings advocate, Arthur West, claims that state law requires those meetings to be public. A King County Superior Court judge agreed with the ports earlier this year. West is appealing that ruling.

The two ports want to submit a preliminary agreement on the alliance to the Federal Maritime Commission for approval by the end of April with the final agreement being reached by mid-summer. The two ports say they’re losing market share to Southern California and Canada because of newer, larger ships, shipping alliances and lower taxes on imports through Canada.