The Maritime Administration (MARAD) is the USDOT agency responsible for America's waterborne transportation system. Its mission is to foster, promote and develop the maritime industry of the United States to meet the nation’s economic and security needs. The Office of Cargo & Commercial Sealift promotes Cargo Preference, which is the general term used to describe the U.S. laws, regulations and policies that require the use of U.S.-flag vessels in the movement of cargo that is owned, procured, furnished, or financed by the U.S. Government. It also includes cargo that is being shipped under an agreement of the U.S. Government, or as part of a Government program.
Over the years, Cargo Preference has been an effective shipping strategy in maintaining our Nation's presence and economic viability in the international shipping market. In short, certain percentages of cargo must be carried on vessels registered in the United States when the cargo is supported by U.S. Federal funding. Such cargo is commonly referred to as “government-impelled”, and is typically moving: as a direct result of Federal Government involvement, such as military transportation of supplies by sea; or indirectly through financial sponsorship of a Federal program, such as USAID supported food aid; or in connection with a loan, grant, loan guarantee, or other financing provided by the Federal Government.