The following letter was sent out to U.S. Senators on behalf of USA Maritime, an organization representing U.S.-flag shipping companies, labor unions (including the Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO and several of its affiliates), and American maritime trade associations:
USA Maritime strongly opposes Senate Amendment 265 which effectively eliminates the Ship American “cargo preference” rules that are essential to the U.S.-flag Merchant Marine. Ship American laws are critical for the maritime industry, and good policy: American taxpayer dollars should go to American workers whenever possible. Ship American Laws are similar to Buy American laws–American taxpayer dollars should be invested in our fellow Americans, as much as possible.
Not only are Ship American laws common-sense good governance, but the proposed amendment is unnecessary. Existing law already allows for the waiver of Ship American preferences if U.S.-flag vessels are not available at fair and reasonable rates.
Second, the amendment is overbroad. It would waive Ship American rules indefinitely–damaging the U.S.-flag fleet for an untold number of years.
For the U.S.-flag merchant marine to continue to move 90% of military goods during war, the industry needs cargo preference during peace. The resolutions dramatically overstate the cost of shipping American. All ocean shipping under the Food for Peace program, foreign-flag and U.S.-flag combined, accounts for only 8% of program costs. The premium for using the U.S.-flag ships accounts for less than 1% of program costs.
Waiving cargo preference will take away American jobs and gives American taxpayer dollars to foreign shipping companies, but more critically, enactment of the waiver will seriously erode the security of our nation’s military logistics capability through attrition, as U.S. companies will be forced out of business, American mariners will lose jobs, and the DoD will be forced to outsource its transportation needs to unreliable foreign corporations.