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IMCA aims to set the Jones Act record straight

Published on 25 May 2017

On May 10, 2017, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued Customs Bulletin & Decisions, Vol. 51, No. 19, ‘Withdrawal of Proposed Modification and Revocation of Ruling Letters Relating to Customs Application of the Jones Act to the Transportation of Certain Merchandise and Equipment Between Coastwise Points‘. 

The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) immediately welcomed this Decision and noted that it would protect the economy of the United States and protect against significant American job losses in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM).  This Decision represents a pivotal step in protecting the U.S. National economy by promoting the offshore oil and gas industry.  In addition, IMCA noted that it looked forward to working with stakeholders in the future with regard to how the Jones Act should be interpreted to foster American jobs and prosperity. 

Now IMCA has published a detailed statement providing more information and dispelling certain misstatements. “There have been misleading reports that the Decision puts foreign interests first to the detriment of the national and economic security of the United States including U.S. companies and jobs,” explains IMCA’s Chief Executive, Allen Leatt.

“In short, nothing could be further from the truth.  We would like to set the record straight and to demonstrate why the Administration’s decision was not only a reasoned decision, but the correct one.  Equally, in view of the fact that this whole matter was raised and then withdrawn previously in 2009, we feel it important to put on record why the CBP Decision was the right course of action.

Our statement sets out the facts on which as an industry we can move forward.  This debate is not about foreign employers under-cutting the wages of U.S. workers – which is certainly not the case in any event.  Instead, it is about different markets in the offshore industry using very different types of vessels performing vastly different jobs.  In short, it is the difference between the types of vessels capable of engaging in deepwater construction activities and the types of vessels capable of engaging in transportation activities.

“The offshore industry is suffering from one of the deepest downturns ever seen, and mariners across the entire globe are badly impacted by the lack of demand for our collective services.  This is not about putting foreign interest first above that of U.S. companies and U.S. mariners. Let us not lose sight of the situation we find ourselves in, rather, let’s find a common-sense approach for all sides to coexist as we have since the offshore industry started.

“In conclusion, the Decision puts U.S. jobs, U.S. security, the U.S. economy, and the sovereignty of the United States first, not foreign interests, by making sure these U.S. interests are not harmed by hasty action without understanding the potential consequences as outlined in our published statement.”