ANNOUNCED AS TEMPORARYNo
Import-related non-tariff measure, nes
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a ruling on April 13, 2016, clarifying the application of the Jones Act (46 U.S.C. § 55102). This law generally requires that certain vessels engaged in cabotage (coastwise voyages) be U.S.-made, U.S.-owned, and U.S.-crewed. CBP affirmed that the transportation of a tug aboard a non-Jones Act qualified submersible barge from a U.S. shipyard to international waters would be unlawful. At issue was a proposed transportation of a tugboat that Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Inc. is building in its shipyard in Panama City, Florida. The company asked if the tug could be laden onboard a Norwegian, non-coastwise-qualified, submersible barge at Eastern Shipbuilding Group's shipyard in Panama City, Florida and towed by a coastwise-qualified vessel into international waters. Once in international waters, the barge would submerge and the tug would launch. A coastwise-qualified tugboat would then tow the Great Lakes tug to the Port of Panama City, Florida. At no point during this proposed movement would the tug move under its own power. CBP determined that this transaction could not be allowed because (a) the tug is 'merchandise' (insofar as it is transported on another vessel) and (b) the proposed movement of this merchandise is 'coastwise transportation.' It is uncertain whether this interpretation may be considered expansive, with the CBP arguing that it is "consistent with our previous interpretations of 'merchandise' for purposes of the Jones Act." What is clear is that one Norwegian firm is denied the opportunity to provide this service.
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