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WASHINGTON – The manufacturing sector considers it important to collaborate with the study to be carried out by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), in an effort to free Puerto Rico in the future from U.S. cabotage rules that force all maritime transport between the island and the United States to use ships with U.S. license plates.

At a time when political sectors are dedicated to spark some debate using figures from other studies on the cost of cabotage rules for the local economy, the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association considers that the short-term goal should be to provide support to the GAO investigators who will be visiting San Juan next week and urgently clarify the impact of these federal regulations on the island.

“Through our associates, we’re going to support GAO efforts,” said yesterday Roberto Monserrate, assistant executive vice president of the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association.

For Monserrate, the reality on the annual blow to the local economy as a result of cabotage rules attached to the Jones Act of 1920, must be half way between the lowest figure, $50 million, and the highest ones that near the $1.3 billion.

With the exception of ships that focus on the tourism industry, commercial maritime transportation between Puerto Rico and the United States must be carried out on ships with license plates, manufacture, crew and property of American origin.

The GAO study -- very weighty in Congress -- was requested by the resident commissioner in Washington, Pedro Pierluisi, and should be ready between December 2012 and February 2013.

For the manufacturing sectors this has been a sound initiative, given the constant disregard of requests for cabotage rules exemption from maritime transport companies and American unions, Monserrate said.

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