AMP: Puerto Rico Should Not Be Exempted from Jones Act

The American Maritime Partnership (AMP) is opposing Rep. Gary Palmer’s (R-AL) proposed measure to exempt Puerto Rico from the Jones Act.

The Palmer amendment to H.R. 5278, the Puerto Rico Oversight Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), if adopted, would allow foreign vessels to replace American ships and crews in the operation between the island and U.S. Mainland.

According to AMP, this undercuts both American ship builders and operators that support the trade, and the ability for the United States to have the shipbuilding and transport capacity during times of war. The amendment also would expose American waterways and ports to foreign vessels traveling from Puerto Rico, where previously they were barred.

“The Jones Act is not a cause for the island’s financial woes. While other industries have fled the island, the domestic maritime industry has made significant capital investments to service the economy and support thousands of family-wage jobs for Puerto Ricans,” said Tom Allegretti, AMP Chairman.

“Weakening the Jones Act would harm, not help, the Puerto Rican people and the Commonwealth’s economy. In fact, a vote against the Jones Act is a vote to outsource American jobs, undermine national security, and degrade homeland security.”

In addition, AMP further stressed that the GAO study on the Jones Act in Puerto Rico listed a number of potential harms to Puerto Rico itself if the Jones Act were changed, including the possible loss of the stable service the island currently enjoys under the Jones Act and the loss of jobs on the island.

Moreover, American domestic carriers are making some of the largest private sector investments currently underway in Puerto Rico, spending nearly USD 1 billion in new vessels, equipment, and infrastructure, AMP added.

“They employ hundreds of Puerto Rican American citizens on the island, on the mainland, and on vessels serving the market, providing highly reliable, low-cost maritime and logistics services. These private sector jobs and reliable services are important to the long-term recovery of the Puerto Rican economy and would be jeopardized by changes to the Jones Act.”

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