Ratification of UNCLOS is critical to protecting international trade U.S. economy relies on
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The first argument for United States accession to the Convention is the changing patterns of global trade, which place an increasing premium on freedom of the seas and maritime flexibility and mobility. Seaborne commerce today exceeds 3.5 billion tons annually and accounts for over 80% of the trade among nations. The United States, in particular, is increasingly dependent on unrestricted access to overseas resources and8 markets. Over 95% of U.S. import and export trade is transported by sea. Almost 50% of U.S. petroleum products is imported, and an increasing percentage of our gross9 national product, now in excess of 20%, is traded overseas. Recent agreements under the auspices of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, as well as NAFTA, might well intensify this commerce. As the world's leading maritime power and de facto leader of the global maritime coalition, the United States must advocate strongly for the ability of ships and aircraft of all nations to move freely on, over, and under the sea anywhere on earth, not at the sufferance of coastal and straits states but as an internationally recognized legal right. The Convention guarantees this mobility and flexibility, and makes it less likely that naval forces will have to protect our economic use of the oceans militarily, by reaffirming and codifying traditional freedoms of navigation and over-flight.
Indeed, global commerce, travel, and information have greatly contributed to the growing wealth of nations and to the stability of the post-Cold War international system. The world's seas, air, space, and-more recently- cyberspace also play critical roles in states' national defense and their ability to conduct military operations worldwide. The United States relies on freedom to operate in the commons in order to protect the U.S. homeland and its vital national interests.