Senior United States Senator from Utah, Michael Lee, has introduced the Open America’s Water Act of 2019, a bill which would repeal the Jones Act and allow all qualified vessels to engage in domestic trade between U.S. ports.

Nigeria’s Coastal and Inland Shipping Cabotage Act 2003 was fashioned after the Jones Act 1920 of the US. The Cabotage Act, which was enacted to check foreign domination in shipping activities both in Nigeria’s deep sea and inland service, provides that vessels to be deployed for inland trade must be built in Nigeria, owned and manned by Nigerians.

“Restricting trade between U.S. ports is a huge loss for American consumers and producers. It is long past time to repeal the Jones Act entirely so that Alaskans, Hawaiians, and Puerto Ricans aren’t forced to pay higher prices for imported goods—and so they rapidly receive the help they need in the wake of natural disasters,” Lee explained.

In 1920, Congress passed the Jones Act, which requires all goods transported by water between U.S. ports to be carried on a vessel constructed in the U.S., registered in the U.S., owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed primarily by U.S. citizens.

The Cato Institute estimates that after accounting for the inflated costs of transportation and infrastructure, the forgone wages and output, the lost domestic and foreign business revenue, and the monetized environmental toll the annual cost of the Jones Act is in the tens of billions of dollars. And that figure doesn’t even include the annual administration and oversight costs of the law.

Experts believe that about 16 years after, Nigeria has not achieved much success in terms of realising the core objectives of the Cabotage Act, which is to increase the participation of indigenous operators at least in the inland and coastal shipping activities due to poor enforcement and wrong application of the Waiver clause introduced in the legislation.