To the editors of the New York Post –
Your March 7 editorial concerning the need to restore pharmaceutical production in Puerto Rico was spot on. In our headlong rush to buy everything as cheaply as possible we have ignored the national security consequences of abandoning sectors of our economy that have strategic importance, like pharmaceuticals. This has made us vulnerable in ways we might not realize until it’s too late. And Puerto Rico has in place the expertise and infrastructure needed to play a key role in restoring a diversified American pharmaceutical industry.
Your comment on the Jones Act, however, misses the mark. Having the Puerto Rico-Mainland trade served by modern American ships – crewed by Puerto Rican mariners – advances core security interests for Puerto Rico and the country. Shifting pharmaceutical production to Puerto Rico and then allowing the PR-Mainland maritime supply chain to fall under foreign control would put at risk not just pharmaceuticals, but everything moving between the Mainland and Puerto Rico. The Jones Act prevents that from happening.
And assumptions about higher costs from using American ships are also wrong. American carriers have customized their services in the Puerto Rico-Mainland trade for greater efficiencies and environmental performance not found anywhere else. Extremely low back-haul rates from the Island to the Mainland help make Puerto Rican manufacturing competitive despite having to cross an ocean.
American carriers fully support targeted incentives that could revitalize and grow the Puerto Rican pharmaceutical industry, creating desperately needed jobs on the island and enhancing American security.
Michael Roberts is President of the American Maritime Partnership.