EU, US Tighten Maritime Container Security

Tuesday, November 16, 2004
The first measures contributing to strengthening the security of maritime container transport have been agreed by the EU and the US. The measures, which will facilitate legitimate trade through mutually acceptable reciprocal security standards and industry partnership programs, have been adopted in the framework of the agreement to extend the EU/US Customs Agreement to include trade security co-operation, signed in Washington on 22 April 2004 (see IP/04/525).

The measures adopted in the framework of the EC-US Joint Customs Co-operation Committee include creation of an information exchange network, the agreement on minimum requirements applicable for all European ports willing to participate in the US Container Security Initiative (CSI) and identification of best practices concerning security controls of international trade. They include also a pilot project that focuses on shipments transiting through both the US and the EU in view of testing the feasibility of exchanging cargo information on transhipments and freight remaining on board to enable customs authorities to identify, monitor and assess the risk associated with transhipments. Both sides agree also that the exchange of information is a vital component of customs’ security actions to protect global trade and decided to define and establish standards for sharing information. The US invited the EC to post liaison officers at the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) National Targeting Centre, which will further improve the exchange of information, the sharing of best practices and the refinement of common risk indicators with regard to the terrorist threat.

In view of facilitating legitimate trade while securing the supply chain, EC and US experts will study the industry partnership programs applied in the EC and the US. The outcome of the study will support the further cooperation towards the development of mutually acceptable reciprocal industry partnership programs.

Recognizing that emerging technologies can promote greater efficiency and can improve security in the international supply chain, both sides agreed to establish a joint group of appropriate experts to explore innovative developments and their application.

The measures are a first result in view of the future full implementation of the EC-US Agreement on CSI and will be followed by further measures aiming at improving security on a reciprocal basis for both the EC and the US.

The EU-US Joint Customs Co-operation Committee suggested that experts from the Commission and the CPB continue working towards realisation of the overall objective of mutual recognition and reciprocity of measures and standards and submit first results of the proposed actions and further recommendations in spring 2005. The outcome of the EC-US customs co-operation paves the way for comparable measures applicable to all modes of transport.

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