The following letter dated January 28 was sent to President Biden by USA Maritime, a coalition of which American Maritime Officers and American Maritime Officers Service are members.
On behalf of the undersigned United States-flag shipping companies, American maritime labor organizations and related maritime associations belonging to the USA Maritime Coalition, I want to thank you for acknowledging the importance of the maritime industry, highlighting your administration's support for the Jones Act, and directing greater adherence to America's domestic Made-in-America, Buy American and domestic preference laws for maritime transport in your Executive Order issued January 25, 2021.
USA Maritime has long championed America's cargo preference laws, some of the oldest and most important domestic preference laws for maritime transport, which require that certain percentages of cargo financed by the American taxpayer and shipped to or from the United States are transported by U.S.-flag vessels crewed by licensed and unlicensed American mariners. For example, since 1904, federal law has required that 100% of defense related cargoes be carried by American ships, and since 1954, that at least 50% of foreign aid cargo must similarly be carried on U.S.-flag vessels. These and other important domestic preferences for the American maritime industry support dozens of ships in America's U.S.-flag international fleet, and thousands of American mariner jobs.
Despite the fact that the various cargo preference shipping requirements are the law of the land, they have not always been implemented and enforced. USA Maritime has long advocated for stricter adherence to these laws, which are frequently waived, misinterpreted and outright ignored by agencies within the federal government for a variety of reasons - just like other Buy America preferences. Significantly, your Executive Order makes it clear that the Biden Administration wants and expects that agencies of the Federal Government will strictly interpret and enforce our cargo preference laws, and puts in place the oversight and enforcement that have been sorely lacking. For this, you have our deep gratitude.
Closing loopholes, creating oversight and accountability, directing a cross-agency review of all domestic preferences, which includes cargo preference, represents the most sweeping executive action to bolster existing domestic preference programs in decades.
Again, thank you for taking this important step towards ensuring that America's cargo preference laws are enforced and that our country continues to have the U.S.-flag commercial vessels and American citizen crews it needs to support the economic, homeland and military security of the United States. We look forward to working with you and your Administration in the future.