Saturday, August 29, 2009

Note to Rita Moreno: You are an American!

[Note: Yes, I screwed this up. Read the comments. Now, excuse me while I kiss this guy.]

In West Side Story, the Puerto Rican character Anita (played by Ms. Moreno) sings that she wants to be an American (in mixed 6/8 3/4 time). It turns out that she is. At least as far as the U.S. Court of International Trade is concerned.

OK, maybe that is an over statement.

In Puerto Rico Towing & Barge Co. v. United States, the ultimate issue is whether a port in Puerto Rico is a "port of the United States." The case involves the U.S.-flagged M/V Honcho, which operates out of San Juan.

Under U.S. law, there is a 50 percent duty imposed on the value of vessel repairs performed abroad on U.S. flagged vessels. One exception to this rule is for vessels that have no landed at a U.S. port for two years. Seeking to invoke this exception, the Honch argued that San Juan, Puerto Rico is not a U.S. port.

The problem for the plaintiff in this case is that 19 USC sec. 1401(h) defines "United States" as including "all Territories and possessions of the United States except the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Wake Island, Midway Islands, Kingman Reef, Johnston Island and the Island of Guam." Other statutes and regulations also define Puerto Rico as part of the United States and San Juan as a port. Thus, the exception does not apply.

And now on to a monsterquest where I raise questions but do not answer them:

Why are the Virgin Islands exempt? Is it because we bought them from Denmark rather than won them from Spain?

Is there any reason to hang on to Kingman Reef, which is a largely submerged atoll?

If the highest peak on Johnston Island is only 44 feet above sea level, is it fair to call it "Summit Peak?"


Anonymous said...

Larry -

No answer about Kingman Reef of Johnston Island, but when the US purchased the then Danish West Indies in 1917, part of the agreement was to leave the then-current DWI tariff in effect for 100 years. Thus a different tariff and keeps the renamed US Virgin Islands "outside the customs territory."

What will happen in 2017 is anybody's guess, and there'll be a lobbying battle about it for certain.

Amazing day - replied to both of your posts.

Larry said...

And I much appreciate the replies. I'm reading the Nat'l Fisheries case for my next post.

Ralph said...

I thought she said. "I want to be in America, everything free in America" - that is, "in". not "an"

Larry said...

Darn it! Lyrics are here:

bathmate said...

I liked it.