Case wants end to onerous ‘Jones Act’

HONOLULU — Congressman Ed Case re-introduced three bills in Congress to reform the century-old Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (commonly referred to as the “Jones Act”), which is widely credited with artificially inflating the cost of shipping goods to Hawai‘i.

“These three bills are meant to end a century of monopolistic, closed-market, domestic-cargo shipping to and from my isolated home state of Hawai‘i as well as the other island and separated jurisdictions of our country that lie outside the continental United States,” said Case. “The bills aim directly at one of the key drivers of our astronomically high cost of living in Hawai‘i and other similarly-located jurisdictions.

“Because the Jones Act severely limits the supply of shipping to and from our communities, it has allowed a very few companies to control our very lifeline to the outside world, and as a result command shipping rates way higher than the rest of the world,” said Case.

Last year, the Grassroot Institute of Hawai‘i published a thorough and first-of-it-kind report, “Quantifying the Cost of the Jones Act to Hawai‘i.” The report found that:

• The median annual cost of the Jones Act to the Hawai‘i economy is $1.2 billion;

• The annual cost of shipping to Hawai‘i is estimated to be $654 million higher and prices $916 million higher;

• The Jones Act annually costs each Hawai‘i resident more than $645;

• Thanks to the Jones Act, Hawai‘i has approximately 9,100 fewer jobs, representing $404 million in wages;

• Hawai‘i families across all income groups would benefit from Jones Act reform. In the absence of Jones Act restrictions, those making between $15,000 and $70,000 annually would see an annual across-the-board economic benefit ranging from $78 million to $154 million;

• Annual tax revenues would be $148.2 million higher;

• Focusing solely on the Jones Act requirement that vessels be built in the United States, they found that the build provision results in a 1.2% shipping cost increase for Hawai‘i. This translates annually to an added cost of $531.7 million to the state’s economy, or about $296 per resident. It also means a loss of 3,860 jobs, and $30.8 million less in state and local tax revenues;

Case’s three measures and their proposed amendments to the Jones Act are:

• The Noncontiguous Shipping Relief Act, which exempts all noncontiguous U.S. locations, including Hawai‘i, from the Jones Act;

• The Noncontiguous Shipping Reasonable Rate Act, which benchmarks the definition of a “reasonable rate” which domestic shippers can charge as no more than 10% above international shipping rates for comparable routes;

• The Noncontiguous Shipping Competition Act, which rescinds the Jones Act wherever monopolies or duopolies in noncontiguous Jones Act shipping develop.

11 Comments
  1. I saw a Vampire once January 16, 2021 2:52 am Reply

    This would be in favor of ship builders and manufacturers of ships and the money would go directly to that industry. And they would hire from within U.S. to these types of jobs. That would be the reason for this jump in cost to ship merchandise to Hawai’i. This is a small percentage of the labor force and would be taken out, if possible by the bills being passed. What are they workers saying about this bills? Against the bill I would say. Dock workers makes a lot. $90 dollars per hour. Are they picketing at the harbors?


  2. Matt’s Son January 16, 2021 6:51 am Reply

    In other words the Matson Navigation Co. has had enough profit off our burdened backs these last 138 years.

    Their last self imposed recent rate hike was 45%, a whopper!

    Would elimination of the Jones act spell doom to The Matson, inc., company? Their LOYATY to us has not gone without huge ROYALTIES to Matson these last 138 years, but what would we have done without them with their clockwork like on time delivery, and reliable impeccable schedule, practically door to door service to all our major islands.

    They do transport not only from the US MAINLAND, like major West Coast Ports, to and from at least Oakland, Long Beach, and Seattle (Tacoma), and serve Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, Micronesia, the South Pacific, China, and Japan.

    Mail from China via our US Postal Service is ridiculously cheap, China to US, but typically expensive the opposite direction, US to China, like already China goods to all US destinations via our US MAIL, are US tax payer subsidized going back who knows how many years, favoring China, giving China bigger profit margins for their manufactured goods, much of which are backed by US mega corporations that used to manufacture in the US, but now rely on $3 a day 12 hours a day 7 days a week Chinese labor.

    Would disruption of the Jones Act throw more jobs and container ships and shipping lines into the lap of China’s worldwide surge of their BELT and ROAD worldwide commerce takeover, by China, of international trade centering on China, China becoming not only the world’s leading manufacturer, but also the “middle man” clearing house for most of the world goods, while the US has mired itself down, indeed tied its own hands as to world commerce, and has effectively turned from a wonderfully ruthless businessman president to a bleeding heart bureaucrat president who’s last business endeavor was a LEMONADE STAND back in the late 1940’s?

    What our we gonna do with Old Joe, the follower, never the leader, hiding in his basment, touting us to follow the “science”, the very science that has led the US down the road to being the sickest nation on earth with 4.4 Billion prescription drug sales per year, for only 330 million citizens, and 80% of the American people taking 1 or more and up to 15 prescription drugs a day, in multiple doses. 90% made in China. Where in their US there’s a lifetime “Pill for every ill” but no getting well, ensuring your sickened and shortened lifetime in profits for the petrochemical pharmaceutical medication and prescription drug industry, where the medical industry people are the highly paid drug distributors, and have lost all interest in wellness and health, and have thousands of tests that serve only to sell more prescription drugs and surgery, forget getting well and off lifetime drugs, p the drugs advertised on TV warning of toxic and lethal outcomes, at least last time I heard, the side effects included cancer, heart attacks, strokes, kidney and liver failure from prescription drugs that killed people.

    Yes, prescription drugs and goods made in China delivered by Matson shipping, yep that’s right, Biden will Buy’em, wearing his mask over his eyes, while our flavorite ruthless businessman will be sentenced to the Golf Course, after 4 years of trying to impeach him serving like an anchor or albatross around his neck while trying to help US and hisself, and finally Nancy and her ilk, succeeding virtually “minutes” before his future golfing tee off time, wasting more precious time in our lost endeavor to survive and lead world trade, while China is building bridges and railroads and commercial and military airports and warehousing, and our Washington elite are burning our own bridges to the world, and destroying our nation while the pharmaceutical medical industry is choking our nation with masks, mandating a proverbial “ball and chain” on the ankles of every citizen with 6’ social distancing, while virus infect through our unprotected eyes and breezes carry virus distances that suit the wind, and our medical people facing loss of income while a nationwide grassroots endeavor to walk away from doctors and slowly turning to more demand for nutritious organic and Non-GMO foods, instead of acres of sugary and chemical snacks filling supermarkets…so medical lost income caused a need to invent another disease they claim can only be met with their toxic ingredient vaccines, one of which contains Chimpanzee Virus, and all the others contain side effects, but only some deaths which we are told we can ignore. Who invents these macabre things! Those little vials “needed” by the hundreds of millions, indeed billions, not knowing which “tank” they dipped into to increase the supply.

    Where secrecy and non-disclosure are the rules, wherein virus deaths always include accompanying decades long end of life diseases hastened further by end of life decades long ingested prescription drugs, and then amazingly, just announced in Hawaii, the virus is so powerful it ‘single handedly, along with chronic degenerative disease and toxic and lethal prescription drugs, killed a 109 year old man or women, due to privacy rules in order to protect the dead, secrecy and non-disclosure rules preclude giving out the sex of the victim, so the sex could not be revealed.

    As ruthless as the Jones Act may be, without a US favored continued replacement plan outcome, that benefits the US and Americans, a hasty dent in the Jones Act may lead to a leak in the hull of our US commercial fleet sinking our own ships and crew, while shooting ourself in the other foot.

    Your Grand-Ma used to say “look before you leap!”.

    Are our Washington delegates stuck in the SWAMP, head first?

    Good intention “warped” by short attention…again!


    1. Young brother January 16, 2021 8:19 pm Reply

      Matson and pasha is actually the ones keeping shipping from somewhat affordable while it was actually YOUNG BROTHERS who public works approved the 46% increase for 1 year. Started in sept 2020 and will run until sept 2021 unless extended which if I was a betting man will probably be granted another extension. If you’re shipping interisland you’re forced to use YB. If shipping trans-pacific you can avoid YB by using matson who has an interisland barge for their cargo. Therefore saving you money.


      1. Capt Ed January 19, 2021 10:43 am Reply

        Actually, no. Again, this demonstrates how much local people misunderstand so much about our maritime shipping industry. Matson has barges that run inter-island, yes. But the containers are NOT carrying cargo that originates from Honolulu. The boxes you see on MATSON barges are ones coming from the mainland and transshipped to neighbor island ports. You can NOT move cargo from Honolulu to a neighbor island with Matson.


  3. manawai January 16, 2021 8:27 am Reply

    Go for it Mr. Case! The Jones Act is an antiquated law which only servers a relative few number of people at the expense of the rest of us. It helps to materially increase our already sky high cost of living in Hawaii by artificially stifling shipping competition amongst carriers. The great majority of our food, merchandise, equipment, construction materials, etc. are shipped here from elsewhere and we’re stuck with the unnecessarily higher cost of virtually everything we buy just to finance a single east coast ship builder and some merchant seamen. Hawaii needs at least to be exempted from this onerous wartime law. Did you see that last year Young Brothers rates got boosted by 46% by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission?

    https://apnews.com/1df97911c81dc0be1de598d0a0754caa

    The Jones Act: A Burden America Can No Longer Bear | Cato Institute


  4. Steve Martin January 16, 2021 9:10 am Reply

    It’s about time ED. Why bring this up now you have known this for years. What a big joke!


  5. douglas henry January 16, 2021 9:43 am Reply

    That would destroy the United States Merchant Marine and put thousands of men and women out of work. It would also leave us vulnerable during any military conflict. Not a good idea at this time or any other.


  6. Paulo January 16, 2021 11:21 am Reply

    To start with we are talking about US jobs on US built ships. Have we not had enough jobs sucked out to overseas interests or is Rep. Case OK with more job losses.

    The Grassroots Institute of Hawai‘i is a far right organization who prefers open markets in the typical GOP way.

    Before consideration of this job losing scheme we would need a less slanted study on exactly how much less this would cost Hawaii residents. As well as how much more importers could skim off the shipping costs while leaving barely any reduction for the retail prices. In the end it could be a net net and not benefit Hawaii residents much, or at all, and cause loss of US jobs.


  7. Reynaldo Ramos January 16, 2021 11:51 am Reply

    Good one


  8. John Fraser January 16, 2021 7:17 pm Reply

    Yes! But the limit of no more than 10% above international shipping rates for comparable routes is too high. It should be equal or less than international shipping rates for comparable routes.


  9. Cousin C January 16, 2021 9:32 pm Reply

    No way!!!?
    Remember last month when a foreign ship lost almost 2000 containers NW of Hawaii on the way to Long Beach in rough weather. 40 containers were hazmat.
    Sounds like a much more frequent occurrence without US merchant marine!!!!
    think about it!!!!


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