President Donald Trump’s administration is preparing an executive order that will require all U.S. food aid to be transported on American ships, according to four sources with knowledge of the deliberations.
Currently, 50 percent of such aid must be transported on U.S.-flagged vessels. The sources said Trump is considering going as far as doubling that to 100 percent, a move likely to stir opposition from both Republicans and Democrats.
“An executive order is being drafted by the White House,” one source with knowledge of discussions told Reuters, adding that it was being discussed among government lawyers.
Although unlikely to have any significant effect on the $4 trillion global cargo shipping industry, the initiative touted as part of Trump’s “America First” platform may slow food aid getting to millions of people and do little to create jobs, critics said.
Aid groups, and members of Congress from both parties have been working for years to lower, or eliminate, the 50 percent shipping requirement. The United States, the world’s largest provider of humanitarian assistance, spent about $2.8 billion on foreign food aid in 2016. About half of that is estimated to go to shipping and storage.
The conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute said in a November report that shipping food aid on U.S.-flagged vessels costs 46 percent more than aid shipped at internationally competitive rates and can take as much as 14 weeks longer.
Supporters say Trump’s initiative would not only create new U.S. jobs in the shipping industry but that U.S.-controlled food shipments are important for national security because the U.S. fleet could be transferred to the military in case of a conflict. full story