Friday, December 6, 2019

Gov. Vázquez: Unlike last administration, I’m looking at Port of San Juan agreement closely

By on September 19, 2019

An aerial view of San Juan Bay’s cruiseship and cargo ports three days after Hurricane María, Sept. 24, 2017. (CB photo)

Will write to Maritime Commission as Justice Dept. investigates Puerto Nuevo Terminals

SAN JUAN — In a statement Wednesday evening, Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez said that unlike the previous administration, she was letting the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) know she would object to the collaborative agreement it allowed between Port of San Juan terminal operators were it to affect commerce or consumers.

The governor pointed to wanting to ensure that the agreement between terminal operators Luis Ayala Colón and Puerto Rico Terminals does not affect competitiveness, reduce transportation services or increase their costs. 

If the resulting Puerto Nuevo Terminals venture is detrimental, the governor assured she would “make the corresponding determinations in the best interests of Puerto Rico.”

Vázquez further noted that although she has already requested a Justice Department investigation, she was also looking into the details of the agreement whose opponents believe could affect competition, resulting in poorer, costlier service for consumers.

“According to what I have been informed, under the public policy of the previous governor, no objection was presented before the FMC about the said merger. It is our duty to establish that [our] position is in contrast to the [previous administration’s] and that, certainly, I will promptly address the concerns and complaints about the jurisdiction of the government of Puerto Rico, as well as the scope of the agreement and its implications on consumers and commerce in Puerto Rico,” Vázquez said.

The FMC allowed the collaborative agreement between the adjacent Port of San Juan terminals to go into effect Aug. 29. However, the commission noted concern about the agreement’s impact on the market, saying it would monitor it closely.

The commission did not reach a consensus on the threshold question of whether the agreement comes within Shipping Act jurisdiction, Commissioner Michael Khouri said in an FMC press release, adding that “a majority could not determine that we have enough information and evidence at this time to go to Federal Court to seek an injunction to prevent this agreement from going into effect. We understand what the parties are trying to achieve, but serious concerns remain about the implementation of the agreement. The Commission will take necessary measures to ensure that the agreement is not implemented in a manner that violates the Shipping Act.”

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