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Rationalising and revitalising the US maritime industry

Piecemeal and stopgap measures added to existing and increasingly cumbersome and antiquated laws are not working to foster strong US merchant marine foreign trade fleets and domestic fleets which are essential to the international and internal economy. Trade requires transport and the most efficient form of transport is by water. Indeed, some 94 percent of all international trade is by water. International export trade was valued by the World Trade Organization for the US in 2012 at US$3,882.7 billion, of which approximately 95 percent was carried by ships. International trade is the foundation of our national security. Hence a vital, strong, modern and competitive merchant marine is essential to international trade and therefore, domestic trade.

The Department of Transportation should recognise these facts and take the proper steps required by law to encourage, rationalise and revitalise the US commercial water shipping sector and infrastructure for both the foreign and domestic trades. A complete review of all maritime laws should be undertaken. The Congress should be encouraged to amend or abolish antiquated or ineffective laws to take into account the following concepts as national policy for the maritime industry.

1. Reform the maritime laws

New or amended laws should institute comprehensive and integrated legislative and regulatory reform in both civil and criminal jurisdictions. Laws and regulations should be coordinated with conventions, ratified treaties or those observed as customary law, and international regulations.

Mechanisms should be put in place by such laws to ensure that changes in international regulations are easily implemented. These should all be done with the goal of increased employment opportunities in the US flag fleet, shipyards and ports and reducing the tendency toward criminalisation of civil torts of seafarers, putting them on the same footing as shore side maritime workers. With such a strategy, the US will not only meet but lead international and domestic waterborne economic activitiesin a vigorous and well-governed maritime industry in all its sectors.

2. Provide ship yard economic opportunities

Policy should require that …

 

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John A C Cartner, managing member, Cartner & Fiske LLC, Washington DC, United States
Edition: Edition 61

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