The shipping industry has an interest in the resolution of the UNCLOS debate as it will affect their free passage rights through valuable shipping routes and possibly open up new more efficient routes through the Arctic.
One commercial navigation voice raised during the committee hearings was that of the Chamber of Shipping of America (CSA), an association of U.S. vessel owners and op- erators of U.S. and foreign-flag ships. CSA president Joseph Cox made the case for accession based on environmental and freedom of navigation principles. Remaining outside the Convention, cautioned Cox, put U.S.-based shipping interests in jeopardy of being burdened by coastal state regulations that have been “stretching the interpretations of the law of the sea into unrecognizable forms.”69Cox, Joseph C. "Statement of Joseph C. Cox: Hearing on the Law of the Sea Convention (October 4, 2007)." Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, October 4, 2007. [ More (2 quotes) ] Cox referred specifically to recent actions taken off the coast of western Europe. He derided the forcible removal of the Prestige in 2002 from the exclusive economic zone of Spain when it developed a hull fracture and sought entry into safe waters.70Cox, Joseph C. "Statement of Joseph C. Cox: Hearing on the Law of the Sea Convention (October 4, 2007)." Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, October 4, 2007. [ More (2 quotes) ] Cox also criticized a recent designation of a large expanse of ocean stretching from the “upper reaches of the English Channel to the Straits of Gilbraltar [as] a particularly sensitive sea area [(PSSA)].”71Cox, Joseph C. "Statement of Joseph C. Cox: Hearing on the Law of the Sea Convention (October 4, 2007)." Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, October 4, 2007. [ More (2 quotes) ] While coastal states may designate PSSAs pursuant to International Maritime Organization principles, acknowledged Cox, he contended the designation in this instance was unsubstantiated.
It’s no surprise then that ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty is a priority for many of the NAM’s members. Its adoption is critical for manufacturing competitiveness in the United States.
While my testimony will focus primarily on mineral development on the deep seabed, that is not the only reason for the urgency in adopting this treaty.
In today’s global economy, exports are more important than ever. Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States, so reaching these potential customers is critical for manufacturing competitiveness.
This treaty will secure international lanes of commerce and ensure that manufacturers can export their products efficiently. It protects our sovereign interests and promotes international commerce.
Secure shipping lanes are a priority for NAM members. Last year, cargo ships and other ocean liners carried $570 billion of U.S. exports. Discounting our exports to Mexico and Canada, which travel by rail and truck, this total accounts for more than 50 percent of our exports by value and more than 90 percent of our exports by weight.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, freedom of the seas and rights of innocent passage are not theoretical concepts. These are critical aspects of the Law of the Sea Convention and ones that we rely on for the effective operation of our industry. We are very concerned with protection of those rights. Both US flag ships and ships owned or operated by American companies are impacted by international events. We rely on our nation to be actively involved. The U.S. should place itself in the most effective position to be a force for adherence to treaty obligations by all. We can do this by acceding to the treaty.
My members operate in the international maritime world. We benefit from a consistent application of the rules that we have to follow. There are certainly fewer ships flying our flag than in years past although that does not mean we are less involved as a nation. The latest figures we have seen place the United States as the sixth largest shipowning nation in the world. In recent months, we have seen actions by companies that will lead to more American seafarers serving on ships that fly the flags of other nations. Clearly we have a lot at stake.
Another key mission of the Coast Guard is to promote safe and secure international trade. The convention promotes freedom of navigation and overfight, by which international shipping and transportation fuel and supply the global economy. Some 90 percent of global trade tonnage, totaling more than $6 trillion in value including oil, iron ore, coal, grain, and other commodities, building materials, and manufactured goods, are transported by sea every year.7
Currently, little international trade travels through the Arctic, but this is changing and will continue to increase in the decades ahead as the ice cover continues to recede and marine transportation technology advances. Moreover, there is considerable destinational shipping even now, such as to bring critical supplies to the North Slope and Alaskan coastal villages, and to remove vast amounts of minerals from the treasure trove in the Brooks Range in northwestern Alaska.
By guaranteeing merchant vessels the right to navigate through international straights, archipelagic waters, and coastal waters, the provisions of the convention promote dynamic international trade. Free navigation reduces costs and eliminates delays that would occur if coastal states were able to impose various restrictions on navigational rights.
Being a member of the Convention will help to simplify this complex maritime environment both for our military forces as well as our commercial partners who have played a critical role in developing new routes for transporting DOD cargo and in enabling access to a vast global infrastructure for transport of DOD cargo. More than 90 percent of all military supplies and equipment are transported around the world by sea, much of it by commercial vessels. This Convention provides important legal support for our commercial partners who transport our cargo, unescorted by U.S. warships, under the legal regimes of the Law of The Sea Convention. Without codification of those rights, our commercial partners are at greater risk.
The convention promotes the freedom of navigation and overflight by which international shipping and transportation fuel and supply the global economy. Some 90 percent of global trade tonnage, totaling over $6 trillion in value, including oil, iron ore, coal, grain, and other commodities, building materials, and manufactured goods, travels on and over the world’s oceans and seas each year.12 By guaranteeing merchant vessels and aircraft the right to navigate on, over, and through international straights, archipelagic waters, and coastal zones, the provisions of UNCLOS promote dynamic international trade.
At the same time, UNCLOS encourages international cooperation to enhance the safety and security of all ocean-going ships. Whether it involves lumber and winter wheat shipped from the Pacific Northwest to Japan; high-quality, low-cost goods from Singapore to Long Beach; or oil from the Persian Gulf to Europe; free, safe, and secure commercial navigation and flights provide great economic and security benefits to all of us. That is the key reason the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, shipping industry, aviation industry, and other international trade groups have called for immediate accession to the convention.
The convention promotes the freedom of navigation and overflight by which international shipping and transportation fuel and supply the global economy. By guaranteeing merchant vessels and aircraft the right to navigate on, over, and through international straights, archipelagic waters, and coastal zones, the provisions of UNCLOS promote dynamic international trade.