EU shipowners support the liberalisation and promotion of EU-US trade, both in services and in goods, as the harmonisation of the EU and US markets will play a key role in fostering trans-Atlantic trade, the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) said in the context of the sixth Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations round.
This will in turn stimulate maritime transport, which will effectively underpin the increased exchanges and act as a vector for the ensuing commercial activity between the two trade partners.
However, restrictions on domestic cargoes, so-called cabotage rules, still firmly exist in the United States. This results from the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, better known as the ‘Jones Act’.
Commenting on the Jones Act, Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA Secretary-General, remarked during a TTIP stakeholder event in Brussels earlier today : “Whilst it is true that restrictions on pure domestic cargoes may not constitute a prime barrier to international maritime trade, the Jones Act does have implications for the delivery of international cargo.
Today’s reality is that very often international cargo must be transhipped from one vessel to another, often smaller vessel, in order to reach its end destination. Under the Jones Act, this ‘feedering’ of international cargo is currently restricted. We would therefore welcome ways to grant full access for international carriers to engage in such operations as they do not constitute purely domestic operations.”
Mr Verhoeven continued by alluding to the need for more frequent individual and industry waivers to the Jones Act as well as more flexible and clearer procedures to obtain them.
EU shipowners also advocate greater market access for dredging and offshore services as well as more flexibility as regards transport of empty containers.
Finally, the maritime chapter of TTIP should not just focus on market access restrictions. There are several other fields where progress can be made, for instance in the field of administrative procedures, performance of standard work on board vessels and security procedures, ECSA said.
“A trade agreement without commitments on maritime transport would fall short of the feedback loop between maritime transport and trade, in essence a virtuous circle from which both sides of the Atlantic stand to profit” and added: “The TTIP negotiations should set the scene for further international trade liberalisation,” concluded Mr Verhoeven.
Press Release, July 16th, 2014