Legislative Update: Export Promotion, Shipping Reform
Exports. The Boosting America’s Exports Act (H.R. 5437, introduced Dec. 16 by Rep. Bustos, D-Ill.) would help small and medium-sized businesses increase their exports by (a) directing the U.S. Commercial Service to design metrics and set goals relating to new-to-exporting firms served by the agency’s programs, (b) instructing assistance centers to conduct outreach to non-exporting firms, enhance collaboration with state and local export promotion programs, and hire additional trade specialists and administrative staff as needed, and (c) instructing the undersecretary of international trade to conduct an assessment of whether export assistance centers are optimally located to reach small and medium-sized businesses.
Shipping. Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii) introduced Dec. 19 three bills to reform the Jones Act, which mandates that all cargo shipped between U.S. ports occur exclusively on vessels flagged and built in the U.S. and owned and crewed by U.S. citizens. Case said that because Jones Act shipping has shrunk and international shipping has increased, especially in the last quarter-century, this law results in a very few carriers serving all domestic shipping needs. As a result, Case introduced (a) the Noncontiguous Shipping Relief Act (H.R. 5500), which would exempt all noncontiguous U.S. locations from the Jones Act, (b) the Noncontiguous Shipping Reasonable Rate Act (H.R. 5499), which would benchmark the definition of a “reasonable rate” domestic shippers can charge as no more than ten percent above international shipping rates for comparable routes, and (c) the Noncontiguous Shipping Competition Act (H.R. 5498), which would rescind the Jones Act wherever monopolies or duopolies in noncontiguous Jones Act shipping develop.