Commentary: Washington State Employers Deepen Trade Ties to the United Kingdom


When our friends in Great Britain open their eyes in the morning, many parts of their day look a lot like what we see here in Washington.

The Association of Washington Business led a trade mission to the United Kingdom in June and it was apparent during our visit that employers based here in Washington are a vital and vibrant part of life “across the pond.”

When Britons head into work and grab a coffee (or tea), many choose a Starbucks beverage.

Then when they fire up their computers at the office, they probably see a Microsoft logo.

When they get home from work, they might find a few packages delivered by Amazon (based in Seattle but with 70,000 employees in the United Kingdom). And many of the trucks that deliver those packages are manufactured by Leyland Trucks, which is a subsidiary of Bellevue-based PACCAR.

Or if they do their shopping in person, they might head to a British Costco (based in Issaquah), where hot dogs cost $1.50, just as they do in the states (except their price is in pounds, not dollars.) The well-stocked selection of wines we saw at a London-area Costco included Washington-grown and bottled vintages from Chateau Ste. Michelle and other Pacific Northwest brands.

When a Brit heads down to their local pub, like Fuller Brewing Co. (we visited this London pub, founded in 1816), they’ll enjoy beer brewed with hops grown in Washington and distributed by Yakima Chief Hops.

Boeing airplanes fly people around the British Commonwealth and the world.

These stories could go on and on. The fact is, Washington is one of the most trade-driven states in the nation and our country has an important trade relationship with the United Kingdom.

The UK is America’s fifth-largest largest goods export market, and it’s a mutually beneficial relationship with a good balance of trade.

The United States exported $69.1 billion to the UK in 2019 — that’s up more than 50% from 10 years earlier.

We imported $63.2 billion from the UK in 2019. Our chief goal during the June trade mission was to deepen that relationship in the years ahead, especially in Washington state which also already has strong ties to the UK. The UK was the fifth-largest market for Washington state in 2019 with nearly 20,000 jobs supported by exports to the nation.

Agriculture is one area of growth.

Wheat, wine and beer and distilled products from Washington are all popular in the UK and abroad, for instance.

To help establish the relationships that can lead to stronger trade ties, the dozen members of AWB’s trade delegation met with a number of UK officials, including Penny Mordaunt, a member of Parliament who serves as Minister of State at the Department for International Trade.

Our Washington trade delegation included Lisa Brown, director of the Washington Department of Commerce, as well as a representative of the Washington Department of Agriculture.

We’ve had an ongoing partnership with these two agencies, who also joined us for AWB’s 2019 trade mission to Japan. We’ll continue to work with our members and other Washington companies to expand our trading relationships with countries throughout the world.

International trade is one of Washington’s strengths. We’ve got a good thing going, and we’ll continue the spread the word, advocate for trade policy and build relationships to help Washington and our trade partners thrive — and to help people around the world enjoy even more of the great things we make right here in Washington state.


Kris Johnson is president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s chamber of commerce and manufacturers association.