Puerto Rico: Characteristics of the Island's Maritime Trade and Potential Effects of Modifying the Jones Act

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A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Jones Act requirements have resulted in a discrete shipping market between Puerto Rico and the United States. Most of the cargo shipped between the United States and Puerto Rico is carried by four Jones Act carriers that provide dedicated, scheduled weekly service using containerships and container barges. Although some vessels are operating beyond their expected useful service life, many have been reconstructed or refurbished. Jones Act dry and liquid bulkcargo vessels also operate in the market, although some shippers report that qualified bulk-cargo vessels may not ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. March 14, 2013.

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Description

A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Jones Act requirements have resulted in a discrete shipping market between Puerto Rico and the United States. Most of the cargo shipped between the United States and Puerto Rico is carried by four Jones Act carriers that provide dedicated, scheduled weekly service using containerships and container barges. Although some vessels are operating beyond their expected useful service life, many have been reconstructed or refurbished. Jones Act dry and liquid bulkcargo vessels also operate in the market, although some shippers report that qualified bulk-cargo vessels may not always be available to meet their needs. Cargo moving between Puerto Rico and foreign destinations is carried by numerous foreign-flag vessels, often with greater capacity, and typically as part of longer global trade routes. Freight rates are determined by a number of factors, including the supply of vessels and consumer demand in the market, as well as costs that carriers face to operate, some of which (e.g., crew costs) are affected by Jones Act requirements. The average freight rates of the four major Jones Act carriers in this market were lower in 2010 than they were in 2006, which was the onset of the recent recession in Puerto Rico that has contributed to decreases in demand. Foreign-flag carriers serving Puerto Rico from foreign ports operate under different rules, regulations, and supply and demand conditions and generally have lower costs to operate than Jones Act carriers have. Shippers doing business in Puerto Rico that GAO contacted reported that the freight rates are often--although not always--lower for foreign carriers going to and from Puerto Rico and foreign locations than the rates shippers pay to ship similar cargo to and from the United States, despite longer distances. However, data were not available to allow us to validate the examples given or verify the extent to which this difference occurred. According to these shippers, lower rates, as well as the limited availability of qualified vessels in some cases, can lead companies to source products from foreign countries rather than the United States."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • March 14, 2013

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Puerto Rico: Characteristics of the Island's Maritime Trade and Potential Effects of Modifying the Jones Act, report, March 14, 2013; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc296688/: accessed November 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.