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June 14, 2018

Extreme protectionism is damaging, futile says Port of Oakland official

A global trade executive urged college graduates to reject "extreme protectionism," calling it damaging and futile. Speaking on Monday at Central Washington University's Kent, Wash., commencement, Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle asked his audience to instead embrace globalization.

"Don't disengage from the world - don't be part of the illogical rush to draw the drapes and turn out the lights," the longtime international maritime leader told an audience of 5,000. "We see too much of it today in Britain, Italy, France - and right here in the U.S."

As a Central Washington graduate, Class of '79, who has run two of the nation's largest ports -- Oakland and Long Beach -- Mr. Lytle had practical advice for graduates: "Don't shy away from hard work and show up on time." But he saved his most forceful comments for a looming U.S.-China trade war. Both nations have introduced tariffs that threaten to disrupt international commerce.

Mr. Lytle warned that the moves could undermine free trade. "And free trade has been the backbone of worldwide economic growth," he said.

Oakland's Port boss called tariffs the latest example of misguided nationalism. He said they run contrary to the advance of globalization and trade liberalization. "Globalization is the story of the 21st century," Mr. Lytle said. "It has produced an era of unprecedented, worldwide economic growth."

Mr. Lytle predicted that a trade war with China would result in lost jobs and lost income. He also warned of lost opportunities for graduates.

Source: Port of Oakland