Shippers: Proposed Security Measures Disrupt Commerce

Tuesday, March 28, 2006
While lawmakers intend to move quickly to pass legislation aimed at improving maritime and cargo security, officials with major shipping and container companies fear some new rules could be disastrous for international commerce. Industry experts worry that new regulations for screening and inspecting cargo could place odious and costly requirements on shippers, and they are urging lawmakers to be cautious. Lawmakers and industry officials agree that more scrutiny needs to be given to what is inside cargo containers, but exactly how that should be done is a matter of dispute. A bill introduced by House Armed Services Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., for example, would mandate the inspection of all cargo coming into the United States. Another measure by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and House Transportation and Infrastructure ranking member James Oberstar, D-Minn., would require all containers to be scanned before being loaded onto a ship bound for the United States. Shippers caution that a full inspection of all containers is unfeasible and expensive. Some suggest that emphasis should be placed on inspecting cargo that is deemed high-risk, while keeping containers moving through ports. Homeland Security say they screen all cargo, which means an inspector reviews a manifest stating what is in every container. Only cargo that raises a red flag is actually inspected, which now comprises about 5 percent of the roughly 10 million containers that arrive in the United States each year. (Source:
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