White House Waives Jones Act for Puerto Rico
Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a policy think tank in Hawai‘i that has long called for relief from the Jones Act, praised the decision, but said it might need to be extended.
Until now, Akina said, the Jones Act had been significantly hindering essential relief efforts to the millions of hurricane victims on the island. That’s because the Act requires the transport of goods and passengers between U.S. ports to be on vessels built and flagged in the U.S. and crewed predominantly by Americans.
This limits how many ships can be deployed to disaster zones and raises the costs for the limited few that can be deployed.
“Waivers from the Jones Act helped Florida and Texas deal with hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and now it will help Puerto Rico,” said Akina. “This may save lives.”
Today’s waiver applies to all goods shipped from U.S. ports to Puerto Rico, which is a change from the waivers that were in place from Sept. 8 to 22, which applied to only petroleum products.
“The Trump administration’s decision to suspend the Jones Act will help provide needed goods to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico,” Akina said. “However, the 10-day waiver will probably need to be extended to help Puerto Rico rebuild.”
“If relief from the law helps America’s economy during disaster situations, surely it could also help in non-disaster times as well,” Akina added. “This is further evidence that the outdated Jones Act law should be updated for the 21st century.”
The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is an independent, nonprofit research and educational institution devoted to promoting individual liberty, economic freedom and accountable government. Its president, Dr. Akina, is a recognized scholar, public policy spokesperson and community leader in Hawaii. He is an expert in East-West philosophy and ethics, has taught at universities in China and the United States, and continues as an adjunct instructor at Hawaii Pacific University. In 2016, he was elected trustee-at-large for the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs.