Automotive Supply Chain Magazine - page 3

As sales volumes rise in the United States the nished vehicle
transportation sector is coming under signi cant pressure. Already there is a
shortage of railcars, particularly the bi-level and tri-level equipment which the
automotive industry requires. Trucking companies are nding it increasingly
dif cult to recruit quali ed drivers and the new working hours legislation
coming into effect this month will further handicap the road transport sector.
So why not move nished vehicles by sea? After all, the US is anked east and
west by two of the world’s largest oceans and the Gulf of Mexico to the south.
Short sea shipping has operated successfully in Europe for many years in direct
competition with road and rail. Yet it barely exists in the United States.
The problem centres on an antiquated piece of legislation called the Jones
Act to be found in Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. The act
requires that goods and passengers transported by water between US ports
be carried in US-made ships, owned and crewed by US citizens.
Some provisions of the Act are considered to be protectionist in
nature. This may price ship builders and operating companies out of the
international market because the added expense and higher labour costs
make companies less competitive. Today, at least 75% of a ship’s crew must
be comprised of US citizens.
The US automotive industry needs to start moving more vehicles by water,
both in inland waterways and on a north/south basis on the Atlantic and
Pacific. The Jones Act prevents this. There are no purpose-built vessels to
move 1,000 or so cars, no barges or integrated tugs and barges. The assets
which work extremely successfully in Germany and the Baltic. No-one in their
right mind is going to make the investment to build a US-flagged short-sea
ship in North America when it costs one third as much to build the same
vessel in Finland, Poland, China or Korea. The repeal of the Jones Act would
have benefits, both in lower distribution costs and environmentally, by taking
car distribution off the roads.
Any such move will be opposed by the US flag maritime lobby. It will
take some real leadership to change it and a forward-looking Department of
Transportation which realises the need to do it. New legislation could still
require, even for a foreign-flag vessel, that it be manned by a US crew, or at
least by US officers.
In 1920, there may have been a need for the Jones Act. Today, it just
doesn’t make sense.
Get rid of this
out-of-date
legislation!
Publisher and Editor-In-Chief:
Peter Wooding
Editor:
Sam Ogle
Editorial Team:
Laura King • Brian Quinn
Design and Production:
Rosie Allum • Richard Sin eld
Customer Services:
Zoe Chapman
Advertising:
Paul Singh
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Amy Davenport
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Automotive Supply Chain is published
by Three 6 Zero Limited, 286 Chase Road,
London, N14 6HF, United Kingdom.
ISSN Number: 2051-6088
Ogle’s Eye
am Ogle
Editor
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