The Jones Act is the nickname for a 94-year-old law entitled the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 that allows only U.S.-made, U.S.-manned, and U.S.-flagged ships to transfer goods or passengers between U.S. ports. Although it was meant to protect domestic U.S. seaborne commerce from foreign competition, in today’s global economy, it has the effect of making shipping oil between U.S. ports, for example, surprisingly expensive.

The Jones Act also imposes strict safety regulations which apply to all U.S.-made ships, even those not intended to sail bet...


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