U.S. maritime laws partly to blame for product shortages, Akina says

Photo by Ted Kefalas
In his weekly column and on KHON2, the institute CEO explained why shipping delays are tied to excess government intervention


The email subject line for the Oct. 2, 2021, “President’s Corner” column by Institute President Keli’i Akina said, “Why the toilet paper shortage?”

The commentary itself generated positive reader response and an invitation by reporter Dallis Ontiveros to elaborate on KHON2 TV via four separate interview segments the following day.

Akina’s point, both in his column and on KHON2, was that federal maritime laws have contributed to product shortages nationwide, including in Hawaii, where Costco recently announced it would return to rationing toilet paper and water in response to the massive congestion we’ve been seeing at major U.S. ports.

“In some ways,” Akina wrote, “this crisis reminds me of Hawaii’s shortage of healthcare capacity, in which government policy and regulation have led to insufficient hospital beds. In other words, the shipping crisis has its roots in government interference.

Specifically, he cited the 1920 Jones Act and the 1906 Foreign Dredge Act as impediments to shipping flexibility and U.S. port efficiency, in addition to the more commonly mentioned causes such as increased demand following the coronavirus lockdowns, strictly enforced COVID-19 restrictions, rigid labor contracts and shortages of truckers and warehouse workers.

To see his brief interview segments with Ontiveros — on location at the crack of dawn near Nico’s Pier 38 — click on the videos below.


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