With more than 60 years of serving the Puerto Rico market with dedicated shipping and logistics services, Crowley Maritime Corp., along with its 300 local employees, makes no secret that it calls the island home. To say Crowley cares deeply about Puerto Rico and its people – especially at the height of the island’s financial uncertainty – is an understatement.
At Crowley, we are betting that Puerto Rico will succeed.In fact, the company is investing almost half a billion dollars in new marine terminal infrastructure and state-of-the-art vessels to serve the island. A healthy local economy is not only crucial for our company, but is even more critical to the hundreds of Puerto Rican Crowley employees on the island and throughout the U.S.
Serious action is needed to move Puerto Rico into growth mode. It makes sense to allow Puerto Rico access to Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code. Such a change will put into place an efficient mechanism to restructure certain government debt, the same process that is available in other U.S. states. Beyond that, changes are urgently needed, at the federal level and in Puerto Rico, to stimulate private sector investment and job creation on the island.
What is not needed, and what would do serious harm to Puerto Rico, is to offshore Puerto Rico’s U.S. maritime industry by repealing the Jones Act. The Jones Act requires that Americans build and operate ships in the Puerto Rico trade, which creates jobs for Puerto Rican and other Americans. Puerto Rico already enjoys the lowest shipping rates in the Caribbean, as the chart below illustrates.
There are many factors affecting prices on the island – energy, taxes, trucking, warehousing, rent, market size and more. The Jones Act portion is tiny in comparison. Any possible savings from offshoring the maritime work would not even register.
Additionally, repealing the Jones Act could hurt the Puerto Rican economy further. Puerto Rico needs more private sector jobs, not less.The Jones Act providesthousands of Puerto Rican jobson vessels, on the island and in the U.S. Mainland. These are family-wage jobs that generate tax revenue and create other jobs.
Repeal would also jeopardize other benefits of the Jones Act, such as the ongoing $1 billion investment in new terminal infrastructure and ships. Puerto Rico manufacturers and exporters would lose the benefit of the extremely low “backhaul” rates from Puerto Rico to the Mainland. Shippers would lose dedicated, direct and reliable shipping services, which would be replaced with foreign, less reliable, pass-by services involving port calls in numerous islands and countries. And, larger 53- and 45-foot shipping containers used by U.S. carriers to maximize value for Puerto Rico shippers would be replaced by less economical 20- and 40-foot containers typically provided by foreign carriers.
We have faith in the Puerto Rican people and their leaders. We are doing our part to implement real solutions for the current financial challenges. We must also warn against “snake oil proposals” – such as offshoring Puerto Rican maritime jobs by repealing the Jones Act – that would actually do more harm to the Puerto Rico economy than good.
For the past 60 years, Crowley has demonstrated its commitment to Puerto Rico. Now we ask you to do your part and protect the island and its economy. Join us in standing up for the Jones Act, the jobs it creates and a stronger Puerto Rico.
The Men and Women of Crowley Puerto Rico