American Maritime Partnership ‘extremely disappointed’ by Jones Act news

The U.S. maritime industry body the American Maritime Partnership (AMP) has lambasted the decision by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to withdraw the proposed changes to the Jones Act.

The industry body which describes itself as the voice of the domestic maritime industry said that the move by the CBP was ‘extremely disappointing.’

“The Administration’s decision today to delay the revocation of letter rulings that would allow for the lawful enforcement of the Jones Act in the Gulf of Mexico is extremely disappointing.  This delay and the move to an extended regulatory review process will damage American mariners and the American domestic maritime industry, which is essential for U.S. economic security and job creation,” said Tom Allegretti, Chairman of the American Maritime Partnership.

 

Allegreti said: “The domestic maritime industry calls on President Trump and his Administration to take immediate action to return these jobs to American mariners and this work to American companies.”

 

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection last Wednesday withdrew its proposal to amend the Jones Act in a way that would have made a bulk of international offshore vessels banned from operating in the U.S. waters.

The Jones Act, passed in 1920 prevents foreign-flagged ships from shipping merchandise between points in the United States. Under the coastwise laws, only a vessel that is built in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, documented under U.S. registry, and crewed by U.S. seafarers may “provide any part of the transportation of merchandise by water, or by land and water, between points in the United States to which the coastwise laws apply.”

The U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) had proposed for the Jones Act to cover offshore construction vessels, which have so far been exempted.

 

While the foreign-built and flagged ships have been prevented from transporting merchandise between the U.S. coastwise points, over the years some exceptions have been made for construction vessels working in the offshore oil and gas industry.

The foreign construction vessels have been allowed to carry aboard pipeline repair material; anodes; pipeline connectors; wellhead equipment, valves, and valve guards; damaged pipeline; and platform repair material. This has not been seen as a Jones Act violation because the goods have been seen as a necessary equipment.

 

However, had the CBP proposal materialized, foreign-flagged vessels would not have been able to carry any of the “items” listed above, and would be violating law if they did.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday said: “Based on the many substantive comments CBP received, both supporting and opposing the proposed action, and CBP’s further research on the issue, we conclude that the Agency’s notice of proposed modification and revocation of the various ruling letters relating to the Jones Act should be reconsidered. Accordingly, CBP is withdrawing its proposed action relating to the modification of HQ 101925 and revision of rulings determining certain articles are vessel equipment under T.D. 49815(4), as set forth in the January 18, 2017 notice.”

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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