Monday, March 17, 2014

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Hawaii, Alaska and territories lobby for Jones Act revision

Legislators from Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Guam have united to lobby the U.S. government to loosen or waive provisions of the Jones Act.

The law, created in the 1920s, was created to protect the U.S. shipping industry, and stipulates that only U.S.-flagged ships made in country can deliver cargo between U.S. ports.

Lawmakers from the states and territories met in a videoconference Thursday to voice their concerns.

"All of our areas are specifically impacted by the Jones Act," said Hawaii Sen. Sam Slom. "It is now known that the Hawaiian cost of living, primarily because of our additional shipping cost and because of the Jones Act, are now 49 percent higher than the U.S. mainland. And this is becoming unbearable. It's difficult for individuals. It's difficult for families. It's difficult for small businesses as well."

Hawaii legislators are asking Congress to revise the Jones Act or consider a waiver for noncontiguous states and territories.

Slom said it costs about $790 per-FEU to ship goods from Los Angeles to Shanghai, but costs a whopping $8,700 to ship the same container from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

"If we truly want to create jobs and boost our economic development, we need to eliminate the implementation of the Jones Act in Puerto Rico," said Puerto Rico Sen. Rossana Lopez Leon. She added that studies by the World Economic Forum and Federal Reserve Bank indicate that the Jones Act hinders economic development in the commonwealth.

The American Maritime Partnership, which represents ship owners and operators, unions, equipment yards and vendors, says the Jones Act is vital for economic and security reasons.

For more of the Idaho Statesman story:

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