Thursday, March 23, 2023

Jones Act Waivers During Emergencies

By on October 24, 2022

For years, the Food Marketing, Industry and Distribution Chamber (Spanish acronym MIDA) has joined other private sector organizations raising awareness of the impact the cabotage laws have on our economy and in our emergency preparedness. The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act, requires that all goods transported between U.S. ports must use U.S.-flagged, -owned, -built and -manned vessels. This causes several problems, such as the direct costs from operating an expensive merchant marine, and other indirect costs that come from the lack of competition on an essential service to an island.

In 2019, several private organizations, including MIDA, hired two different economic firms to study the matter. Advantage Business Consulting (ABC) conducted a survey of the top domestic and international food and beverage importers, and concluded that “shipping imports from U.S. ports costs 151 percent more than shipping imports from nonU.S. ports.” In an important discussion that is sometimes overlooked, ABC argued that the impact of the Jones Act cannot be limited to the maritime part of the voyage, but should also include the cost of land transportation, because our cargo is forced to travel great distances by land to Jacksonville instead of using ocean transport from other U.S. ports.

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