U.K. Chamber of Shipping applauds CPB Jones Act U turn

MAY 12, 2017 — The U.S. domestic maritime industry may be outraged by the U turn made by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on closing Jones Act loopholes, but the U.K. Chamber of Shipping has welcomed the news. And in a blog posting today it gives some insight into the lobbying efforts that went into bringing about the change.

The U.K. Chamber of Shipping says that "the proposed Jones Act amendments would have particularly impacted specialist ships supplying services to offshore hydrocarbon and wind projects, such as pipe/cable-laying vessels; dive support vessels, subsea construction/IRM vessels and heavy lift vessels.

"A portion of these vessels are operated by U.K. companies and/or those with U.K. interests. Some UK Chamber members have specialist offshore vessels that are operating or have operated in American waters. The chamber made early representations to the U.K. Department for Transport and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in order to protect interests of its members.

"When the US CBP solicited industry comments on its proposal to end these exemptions, it received an overwhelmingly negative response from overseas government bodies, the international shipping industry and US energy companies that rely on these specialist services.

"The revocations would have effectively forced non-U.S. flagged vessels to stop operating immediately, which would have caused havoc for American energy companies. Offshore energy projects would have had to suddenly stop, which would have affected many Americans working in the offshore energy sector.

"Working with the International Marine Contractors’ Association (IMCA), the U.K. Chamber and its European counterparts jointly raised concerns with the European Community Shipowners' Associations (ECSA) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). This spurred the European Commission and the Consultative Shipping Group (CSG) into action to write respectively to the U.S. CBP to express the industry’s concerns. The U.K. Government is a member of CSG, which is a collective body of national government administrations with significant maritime interests. The 18 CSG member countries together represent more than half the world’s operated tonnage.

"The proposal to revoke the rulings to the Jones Act was formally withdrawn by the U.S. CBP in its Customs Bulletin Weekly on Wednesday this week. The withdrawal represents a win for international ship operators and shows the gains that can be made when shipping trade bodies work together with government."

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