Exemption could hurt PR deal

American Maritime Partnership | September 17, 2015 |  Press Releases

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Posted in Tradewinds September 16, 2015

A proposal to exempt Puerto Rico from the Jones Act could serve to reduce support for a debt restructuring effort in Congress, American Maritime Partnership (AMP) chairman Tom Allegretti said Wednesday.

The US-controlled island’s governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, has proposed a five-year exemption from the cabotage law, which requires domestic shipments to be carried on US-crewed, US-owned and US-built ships.

But speaking at the TradeWinds Jones Act Shipping Forum, Allegretti said called the Jones Act exemption a “vote subtractor”.

“If Congress does that — includes an anti-Jones Act amendment in the package — the chances of the overall package getting enacted into law would diminish,” he said..

“That’s because the presence of an anti-Jones Act amendment reduces or subtracts the number of members of Congress who would vote for the overall bill.. So Puerto Ricans would be undermining — and maybe even sabotaging — their own assistance package by including an anti-Jones Act amendment in it.”

Allegretti, whose organisation represents Jones Act stakeholders, pointed to a series of efforts to change the act, including a high-profile move by US Senator John McCain, that met with strong opposition and ultimately bit the dust.

“The Jones Act is extremely safe and secure,” he said.

Jones Act critics contend that the cost of cabotage shipping has helped fueled a debt crisis in Puerto Rico, whose government recently defaulted as Garcia declared its debt “unpayable”.

But at today’s conference, supporters rejected the criticism.

As TradeWinds reported earlier today, US Maritime Administrator (Marad) Paul “Chip” Jaenichen said claims that the law hurts Puerto Rico’s economy was among “outright falsehoods” regarding the cabotage law.