The ostensible purpose of the Jones Act, enacted more than a century ago, was to protect and promote the U.S. shipping industry. It mandates that cargo transported between two American ports must be carried on ships that are American-made, American-owned and American-staffed.
But, as this episode of What’s Ahead explains, the law has ended up hurting our national security by severely harming American shipbuilding, making us more dependent on imported energy, damaging our ports and waterways and inflicting unnecessary pain on victims of natural disasters.
Steve Forbes says the Jones Act should be sunk
by Mike Hansen, Hawaii Shippers Council, August, 2023
Steve Forbes Jr., editor-in-chief of the eponymous business publication, Forbes Magazine, posted on August 3, 2023, a 3.5 minute video on the magazine’s website entitled, “Why The Jones Act Is Hurting America And Must Go To Davy Jones' Locker.”
Forbes expresses his very strong point-of-view regarding the Jones Act. At the beginning the video, Forbes says “the Jones Act should be sent to the bottom of the sea” and concludes the video saying “it must go to Davy Jones Locker.”
Forbes touches on a number problems he perceives with the Jones Act including:
- Hurts U.S. national security
- Causes artificially high cost of U.S. ship construction as compared to international shipbuilding
- Led to the decline of the U.S. oceangoing shipping fleet and shipbuilding industry
- Negative impact on the U.S. noncontiguous jurisdictions (Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico)
- Distorts energy (natural gas and petroleum) transportation (to road and rail and import substitution)
- Impedes natural disaster relief (requiring politically difficult to obtain Jones Act waivers)
There is one serious error in the Forbes video as follows:
. . . constructing tankers and containerships in the U.S. now costs almost five times as much as it does for similar vessel in yards in Japan, Norway and North Korea. @1.5 min.
It should read along these lines:
. . . constructing tankers and containerships in the U.S. now costs four to five times as much respectfully as it does for comparable vessels in yards in Japan, South Korea and China.
Norway is no longer a major builder of large oceangoing ships. Shipbuilding in Europe has essentially collapsed since its post WWII heydays.
North Korea is not and has never been an important builder and exporter of commercial ships
The primary builders of self-propelled oceangoing ships of 1,000 gross tons and greater are South Korea, China (PRC) and Japan (in that order of production).
Collectively, these three Asian countries build over 90% of the large self-propelled ocean going ships of 1,000 gross tons and greater on a worldwide annual basis.
The majority of the ships built by these three Asian countries are for export and employment in the international trade.
FORBES: Why The Jones Act Is Hurting America And Must Go To Davy Jones' Locker (forbes.com)