Monday, June 18 , 2018, 3:25 am | Fair 52º


Tom Donohue: Law of the Sea Treaty Would Protect U.S. Interests

The Senate should act quickly to unlock the national resources that lie off our shores

The next great source of jobs and economic growth may come from an area you rarely think about — the ocean. The waters and seabeds off America’s shores are rich with natural resources — oil, gas, minerals — and economic opportunity. So why aren’t they being developed?

Some are, but many more could be if there was greater sovereignty and certainty surrounding the development of resources off our coasts. The Law of the Sea Treaty would provide that — and much more — if the United States would approve it as 161 other countries have already done.

The Law of the Sea Treaty is an international agreement that governs the rights of and limitations for maritime nations. Entering the agreement would expand U.S. sovereignty, strengthen national security, enhance global competitiveness and spur job-creating commercial activity.

The treaty would be a boon to the U.S. economy by providing American companies with the legal certainty and stability they need to hire and invest. U.S. energy producers would benefit from sovereign rights to seabed resources, including oil and natural gas, up to 600 miles off our coasts. High-tech industries, such as aerospace, defense and consumer electronics, would benefit from expanded access to massive mineral deposits beneath the ocean floor. And the U.S. telecommunications industry would be better able to lay, repair and maintain underwater cables beneath the world’s oceans.

Moreover, the agreement is essential to national security. It would codify navigation rights for safe passage of U.S.-owned or U.S.-flagged vessels, which transport more than 95 percent of all goods imported to or exported from America, including essential commodities such as oil.

Approval of the treaty is also key to America’s competitive strength. As the world’s preeminent maritime power, with one of the largest continental shelves, the United States has more than any other country to gain — or to lose — based on how the treaty’s terms are interpreted and applied. The treaty will continue to form the basis of maritime law with or without our approval. Therefore, it is in our national interest to be an active participant in the process.

The treaty has the enthusiastic backing of every industry it impacts — including energy, telecommunications, mining, fishing and high tech. It has been endorsed by every living secretary of state and the Joint Chiefs of the Armed Forces. All that’s missing is the Senate’s advice and consent. The Senate should act quickly and approve the Law of the Sea Treaty and unlock the benefits that lie off our shores.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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