The U.S. commercial shipbuilding and shipping industry is in a secular decline. Aside from domestic routes reserved by the Jones Act, U.S.-made and manned merchant vessels have nearly disappeared from the world’s oceans. The decline began because of generous government subsidies given to foreign competitors, but today the industry has fallen to a very low ebb from which it will be hard to emerge. There is only one way out that will not cost Washington billions of dollars: mandate that a certain portion of U.S. trade must be carried on U.S.-built and crewed vessels. The cost would be imperceptible to consumers, however it could be a huge boon to the struggling maritime sector. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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