Foreign Trade: Keeping Up with the Jones Act

Often when Congress tries to help one industry by passing a law in its favor, it only hurts another. Latest case in point is that of the Pacific Northwest's softwood lumber industry, which has been losing its traditional East Coast markets at a spectacular rate to Canadian lumbermen in British Columbia. In the past ten years Western Canadian lumber shipments to the East have jumped from 7% to 57% of the market.

A basic reason for the Canadian gain is the Jones Act of 1920, which was designed to protect the uneconomic U.S. merchant marine from low-wage foreign competition. Among...

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