A key agency recently announced it is taking steps aimed at enforcing regulations that benefit the country as a whole, including the maritime industry.
On Sept. 16, during testimony before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, Maritime Administrator Ann Phillips (Rear Admiral, USN, Ret.) announced two efforts intended to support federal compliance with cargo preference requirements.
“Cargoes paid for by American taxpayers belong on American ships,” she said. “Cargo preference requirements are not just ‘Buy America’ requirements, they are requirements that also help to strengthen America.”
The hearing was titled, “Cargo Preference: Compliance with and Enforcement of Maritime’s Buy American Laws.”
Phillips announced that the Maritime Administration (MARAD) will issue a formal “Request for Information” to solicit input from all stakeholders on cargo preference requirements. Under the nation’s federal cargo preference laws, the Department of Defense must move 100 percent of its cargoes on U.S.- crewed, U.S.-flagged vessels. Outside of the Department of Defense, at least 50 percent of other government-impelled cargoes must ship on U.S.- flagged vessels.
Additionally, Phillips announced that MARAD will resume publishing comprehensive federal cargo preference data. Ensuring that such information is publicly accessible is intended to increase interagency efficiency and to provide transparency regarding the movement of government-impelled cargo on both U.S.-flagged and foreign-flagged vessels.
Beyond these announcements, MARAD is also working with the White House’s “Made in America Office” to help agencies understand cargo preference requirements, the administrator explained. In conjunction, MARAD is in the process of communicating with all related federal departments and agencies to remind them of their obligations and to request that they each identify a single point of contact, with whom MARAD can work to implement and ensure cargo preference requirements are being met.
As defined by MARAD, “Cargo Preference is the general term used to describe the U.S. laws, regulations and policies that require the use of U.S.-flag vessels in the movement of cargo that is owned, procured, furnished, or financed by the U.S. Government. It also includes cargo that is being shipped under an agreement of the U.S. Government, or as part of a Government program.”