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Rep. Garamendi and Sen. Wicker Send Letter to Trump Administration Urging Support for U.S. Maritime Industry

March 26, 2019
Press Release

Washington, DC—Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) and Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) sent a bipartisan, bicameral letter to urging U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to ensure that U.S.-flagged and crewed vessels play a key role in the transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to China.

Recent reports indicate that an agreement to end the retaliatory tariffs between the U.S. and China will include substantial commitments by the Chinese to purchase U.S. LNG exports. Senator Wicker and Representative Garamendi’s letter urges the administration to use this opportunity to create new jobs in America and reinvigorate the U.S.-flag international fleet.

“America is on pace to be the third largest producer of LNG exports by 2020. If we don’t use these trade negotiations to require our LNG exports to ship on U.S. vessels, the United States will continue exporting its LNG on foreign-flagged ships manned by foreign crews,” said Garamendi. “The U.S.-flag international fleet has declined 60% since 1991 to just 80 vessels. These negotiations give us the opportunity to reenergize American shipyards and rebuild our nation’s dwindling merchant fleet, which provides a vital economic stimulus and critical sealift capacity for our military. I look forward to establishing a dialogue with the administration on this matter, and I thank Senator Wicker for leading the effort in the Senate to grow the U.S.-flag fleet.”

“The United States should seize every opportunity to bolster our domestic maritime industry,” Wicker said. “As we pursue stronger trade agreements with China and other nations, I urge the administration to consider supporting the American merchant marine fleet by requiring liquid natural gas and crude oil exports be transported by U.S.-flagged and crewed vessels.”

Last Congress, Wicker and Garamendi introduced the “Energizing American Shipbuilding Act.” This legislation would guarantee that fixed percentages of all exported LNG and crude oil would travel on U.S.-built, crewed, and flagged vessels starting in 2025. If enacted, the proposal would grow the U.S.-flag fleet and support thousands of new jobs for American mariners, shipyards, and the domestic maritime industry.

Wicker and Garamendi plan to reintroduce the bill this Congress.

Senator Wicker and Representative Garamendi’s letter can be read here.