31 May 2014

Puerto Rico intensifies efforts to secure exemption from U.S. shipping law

PRFAA Director and Resident Commissioner meet to start designing strategies for Jones Act exemption

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the State of the Commonwealth Address on April 29, 2014, Governor Alejandro García Padilla stated: “The Jones Act makes our maritime commerce with other countries more difficult. The valuable report by the Action Panel that I convened a few weeks ago stresses, once again, the need to deal with this issue. We must take on the challenge as a people, without divisions. As in every issue that touches every one of us as a people, to achieve this goal we must work together, in a united front. I am asking our office in Washington, and the Resident Commissioner, to design a joint strategy to implement the changes that this task requires, so that we may be successful in achieving our goal.”

In response to the Governor’s call for unity and collaboration, Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) Director Juan E. Hernández met today with the Resident Commissioner in his congressional office in Washington D.C. During the meeting, Director Hernández expressed Governor García Padilla’s support for H.R. 2838, which is a bill that would partially exempt Puerto Rico from the Jones Act. In addition, Director Hernández suggested several strategies, one of them being to send a joint letter to every Member of Congress asking them to support the bill, to which the Resident Commissioner agreed. Another idea that was mutually agreed upon was that both offices organize a congressional briefing to obtain additional support for the bill.

Director Hernández said: “I am pleased to inform the country that this was a positive and productive meeting where I presented several ideas to advance our mutual goal of alleviating the Jones Act’s impact, which to this day restricts our economy from growing. It is imperative that we achieve a significant reduction in the transportation costs of products and natural gas to our Island in order to reduce energy costs, and stimulate our economic development. This was the first meeting we have had on the issue and I am glad that it coincided with the International Worker’s Day, proving the importance of this issue to all Puerto Rican workers.”