UNITED STATES: ‘ Changing Times for the Jones Act after 100 Years with possible Repeal or Replacing American Workers with Cheaper Immigrant’s ‘

#AceNewsServices – UNITED STATES – October 10 – The Jones Act, which requires that ships carrying cargo between U.S. ports be built in the United States and crewed by American citizens, has been on the books for nearly 100 years.

' The Jones Act 1920 '

‘ The Jones Act 1920 ‘

It seems to have good “genes” for survival.

But taking nothing for granted, American shipbuilders, who are enjoying a surge of growth due to the boom in domestic crude oil, vigorously oppose any move to repeal or weaken the 1920 law.

Consider a blistering speech delivered Wednesday by Thomas Allegretti, the chairman of the American Maritime Partnership, a coalition of shipbuilding companies, vessel owners, repair yards and others.

Allegretti was scathing in his criticism of Charles Drevna, the president of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), who has called for re-thinking the Jones Act.

In August, Drevna told the energy news service Platts, “I’m not naive enough to think that Congress will repeal this thing [the Jones Act]. But, I think after 94-plus years, now it’s time to take a look at this thing and see how the Jones Act, … and the economic realities of 1920, fit in with the economic realities of 2014.”

The Congressional Research Service reported in July that Jones Act ships “tend to be more costly to build and operate than vessels used by foreign-flag ocean carriers, which can order vessels from whichever shipyards offer the lowest bids and typically hire most of their crew members from countries where seafarers’ wages are much lower than in the United States.”

The CRS report said that it costs up to $4 more per barrel to ship crude from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast on Jones Act tankers than it does to ship it from the Gulf Coast to eastern Canada on foreign-flag tankers.

Allegretti mocked Drevna’s argument by saying, “We’ll replace all the American workers with foreign workers, pay them third world wages, and see if we can’t reduce the cost of domestic shipping! And when we are done with shipping, perhaps we can do the same with Drevna’s refineries.

Then eventually we can replace all American workers with cheaper foreign workers.”

Drevna responded Wednesday afternoon in a statement to The Container: “The maritime industry is apparently listening, now the question is will Congress? This antiquated law has long outlived any usefulness that it might have once had,” he said.

The AFPM “believes that it’s time the Jones Act undergo the scrutiny it deserves now that we are at a critical juncture with calls for the lifting of restrictions on crude oil exports. AFPM is free market, but the protectionist Jones Act increasingly restricts free trade.”

Drevna added, “We agree with Mr. Allegretti that we should not be ‘handing off our domestic maritime industry over to foreign interests.’ I guess where we disagree is that we believe Americans can compete with anyone in a free market, rather than hiding under the guise of a protectionist statute that actually inhibits greater growth of American manufacturing.”

Source: Roll Call – The Container – The Jones Act 1920   


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