Jenniffer González: Economic Development More Important than Cabotage Laws
SAN JUAN – Although several local studies reveal that maritime cabotage laws established under the Jones Act in 1920 have a harmful impact on Puerto Rico’s economy, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González reiterated her opposition to eliminating them, assuring that the island’s economic development depends on more than regulations on vessels that don’t sail under the U.S. flag.
The resident commissioner indicated that their elimination could result in a reduction in the frequency of food supply trips to Puerto Rico.
“That would have serious consequences,” González warned following a press after conference alongside the Private Sector Coalition to announce her work plan on obtaining federal tax incentives for industry on the island.
“There is a reality here. In Puerto Rico, as of today, nearly 60% of products enter under a foreign flag. Here there is this perception that 100% of products come under the American flag and it isn’t like that. It’s not that we have a problem in the supply chain. In fact, in the construction area, most rods and other construction materials come from Mexico or Brazil, not the United States, so the merchant marine isn’t an issue that Congress will amend in the cabotage laws,” explained Puerto Rico’s representative in Congress.
The resident commissioner assured that Congress’ committees that work on the issue have already signed a resolution establishing that cabotage laws won’t be altered in any way, as she noted that Puerto Rico should instead focus on viable goals instead of political discussion.
“Puerto Rico has to focus on the things we can achieve. In terms of products, Puerto Rico imposes too many burdens on local producers today. Burdens that range from rulings and filing documents to taxes, and the same thing occurs at the federal level. Today, Puerto Rican business people must file electronic exchange information, which treats them as if they were from a foreign country when exporting products. That limits the products that can be imported because it imposes an additional tax burden. That is the first thing we have to change,” she denounced.
González argued that eliminating that excess burden would allow the export of local products and services, and Puerto Rico could become a business portal for Latin America.
Likewise, the resident commissioner assured that local products must be inserted in U.S. commercial negotiations with other jurisdictions and stated that, for the first time in history, a resident commissioner will work to realize that proposal.