How many times has it happened that you excitedly find a store online selling that one item you have been coveting or needing, only to discover that when you’re ready to pay for your order, you’re shot down by a message saying “we do not ship to Puerto Rico.”
Surely, that is something that happens quite often and Secretary of State Kenneth McClintock said Wednesday the problem is a clear example of why Puerto Rico has been unable to fully insert itself in the U.S. mainland’s trade market.
The existence of otherwise easily eliminated legal barriers is to blame, he told key federal economic development officials participating in the Summit on Puerto Rico’s Economic Development, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the government and the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce.
Specifically, McClintock mentioned the requirement of filing Electronic Export Information, previously known as the Shipper’s Export Declaration, for shipments between the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico, contained in the Foreign Trade Statistics Regulations and administered by the U.S Census Bureau.
“Inasmuch as commerce between Puerto Rico and the States is interstate rather than foreign commerce, it is unwarranted to impose a requirement that is designed to enable the Census Bureau to compile foreign trade statistics and various federal agencies to enforce laws relating to exporting,” said McClintock, during the summit conducted as a follow-up to the report issued by the President’s Task Force in March 2011.
During his message expanding on ways to strengthen the island’s economic future, McClintock said continuing to impose the EEI “would make Puerto Rico’s participation in the U.S. Customs area and the application of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause to Puerto Rico virtually meaningless.”
He said the EEI filings place a boundary between Puerto Rico and the rest of the U.S. mainland because, among other things, they impose unnecessary burdens on interstate commerce that restrict the flow of trade within the U.S.
“Rather than complying with the EEI requirement, some stateside companies simply decide not to ship their merchandise to Puerto Rico,” he pointed out. “The EEI barrier also impedes some businesses, particularly, shipping companies, from affording Puerto Rico consumers equal treatment to consumers in the States.”
He concluded his presentation by asking the U.S. Department of Commerce to amend the Foreign Trade Statistics Regulations to eliminate the EEI’s as a requirement for goods shipped between the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico.