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Friday, April 17, 2020
COVID-19 Turmoil Places Renewed Focus on Costly Maritime Protectionism
By Cato Foundation @ 2:06 AM :: 2118 Views :: Jones Act, COVID-19

COVID-19 Turmoil Places Renewed Focus on Costly Maritime Protectionism

From Cato Jones Act Gazette, April, 2020

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, people—including President Trump—began to discuss the possibility of providing federal assistance to the hard-hit cruise industry. But Cato's Colin Grabow suggested that—rather than handing out taxpayer dollars to these firms—a better idea would be to repeal the Passenger Vessel Services Act or exempt large cruise ships from that law's Jones Act-style requirements. Freeing vessels from the law, according to Grabow, would allow for more efficient operations, boosting the cruise industry's competitiveness. 

Reports also surfaced of oil executives seeking a Jones Act waiver to facilitate the transport of oil to other parts of the country—an idea Grabow also endorsed—noting that it would provide genuine relief while coming at no cost to taxpayers. Cato's Thomas Firey and Peter Van Doren, meanwhile, listed the Jones Act as one of numerous U.S. laws and regulations that should no longer be tolerated in the current environment. 

Other voices also highlighted Jones Act relief as a necessary component of the effort to mitigate COVID-19's economic damage:

  • Stanford University economist John P. Taylor called for rescinding the Jones Act.
  • Jonathan Williams and Lee Schalk of the American Legislative Exchange Council said the economy would greatly benefit from the Jones Act's suspension.
  • The Mackinac Center listed the Jones Act's suspension as one of numerous measures lawmakers should adopt.
  • The Heritage Foundation's Nicolas Loris described the Jones Act as a senseless restriction. 

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