Congressman Allen West vows to help yachting industry – At a marine industry summit

By Lucy Chabot Reed

October 30, 2011

Those days of U.S. customs officials sometimes stopping yacht crew for having the “wrong” visa (even though they have the correct one) may be coming to an end.

At a marine industry summit at the boat show yesterday, U.S. Congressman Allen West, who represents South Florida in Washington D.C., called on groups and leaders to create what they call in the military an After Action Report (AAR) when the show is over that points out the hurdles the yachting industry is dealing with. Then to send it him so he can endorse it and send it to the pertinent federal agencies so the issues can be addressed.

“For whatever reason, people respond when they get a letter from me,” West said. “Create a document with your big ticket issues on it and the lessons learned so I can start getting them addressed. I don’t want to be sitting here next year talking about these issues again.”

Top of the list was the inconsistent application of visa requirements for yacht crew. Depending on the customs agent, crew with B1/B2 visas are admitted for usually about six months with no problem; sometimes the agent insists on the C1/D visa and denies entry.

Another is the amount of export duties — or lack of import duties — that make it harder for U.S. boat builders to compete globally.

Billy Smith of Trinity Yachts described a recent launch, a 161-foot motoryacht, that was sent to China. The buyer had to pay 48 percent in taxes to take delivery.

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