Keep Jones Act out of WTO talks

As the World Trade Organization prepared for its November summit in Qatar, it was reported that the United States was coming under pressure to put its Jones Act on the table as a negotiating point. The U.S. needs to tell the WTO that the Jones Act is not and will not be a negotiating point to be dealt with now or in the future.The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have underscored the need to get control of who enters and leaves our country. We cannot afford to open our domestic and non-contiguous domestic trades to foreign-owned companies operating foreign-flag vessels with foreign crews.

It is well-known that there are problems verifying nationality, age and documentation of foreign seamen, particularly those from Third World countries.

To open the Jones Act to foreign-flag vessels means we could possibly have foreign seamen navigating the Mississippi River, engaged in transporting petroleum products and chemicals coastwise and on bays, rivers and channels. Neither the U.S. Customs Service, the Immigration Service nor the U.S. Coast Guard are geared to take on the monumental task of background checks and tracking foreign seamen within our borders, and they won't be in the future.

We as citizens of a sovereign country have the right to insure our safety, way of life, and general well-being. We do not need to give aid and comfort to world terrorists by widening their area of operations.

Capt. Warren G. Leback

Princeton, N.J.

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