U.S. Customs Container Security Initiative Forging Ahead

Friday, August 09, 2002
The U.S. Customs Container Security Initiative (CSI) is a program launched by Commissioner Robert Bonner, on January 17 in a speech given at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. CSI secures an indispensable, but vulnerable, link in the chain of global trade: the oceangoing sea container. Customs plays a unique role in processing maritime trade, an ever-expanding stream of commerce, while continually protecting America from terrorism and crime. · The volume of trade moving through the nation’s 102 seaports has nearly doubled since 1995. · In 2001, U.S. Customs processed more than 214,000 vessels and 5.7 million sea containers. · Approximately 90 percent of the world’s cargo moves by container. · Globally over 200 million cargo containers move between major seaports each year. · Each year, more than 16 million containers arrive in the United States by ship, truck, and rail. · Customs processed 25 million entries in 2001. · More than $1.2 trillion in imported goods passed through the nation’s 301 ports of entry in 2001. Almost half of the incoming U.S. trade (by value) arrives by ship. A proactive stance by Customs in screening sea containers before they reach the United States will significantly contribute to the agency’s overall efforts to secure the borders against dangers that might be introduced through commercial traffic. The Container Security Initiative consists of four core elements. These are: (1) establishing security criteria to identify high-risk containers; (2) pre-screening those containers identified as high-risk before they arrive at U.S. ports; (3) using technology to quickly pre-screen high-risk containers; and (4) developing and using smart and secure containers. The fundamental objective of the CSI is to first engage the ports that send highest volumes of container traffic into the United States, as well as the governments in these locations, in a way that will facilitate detection of potential problems at their earliest possible opportunity. Ports that have agreed to participate:

· Ports of Halifax, Montreal, and Vancouver, Canada: On April 3, 2002, Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency agreed to the exchange of inspectors at seaports to pre-screen containerized cargo. Last year approximately 500,000 containers destined for the U.S. landed at these three Canadian seaports. Approximately 65,000 sea containers destined for Canada arrive at the ports of Seattle and Newark/New York each year. · Port of Singapore: On June 4, 2002, the government of Singapore agreed to join the CSI. The port of Singapore is one of the world’s largest. While it ranks second to Hong Kong in terms of number of cargo containers handled, Singapore ranks as the world’s busiest transshipment / transit port. Approximately 80 percent of the containers handled in Singapore are transshipments. Last year, roughly 330,000 sea cargo containers entered America from the port of Singapore. · Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands: On June 25, 2002, Gerrit Zalm, the Dutch Minister of Finance, agreed to the Port of Rotterdam’s participation in CSI. The port of Rotterdam ranks as one of the largest in the world. The port of Rotterdam handles more than 300 million tons of goods per year and more than 6 million containers. Last year, approximately 291,000 sea cargo containers entered the U.S. from Rotterdam. · Port of Antwerp, Belgium: On June 26, 2002, Belgium’s Minister of Finance Didier Reynders, announced that the government of Belgium agreed to join CSI. The port of Antwerp is the third largest container port in Europe. It handles more than 100 million tons of goods per year. Among the world’s seaports, Antwerp ranks number 11 in terms of volume of cargo shipped to the U.S. Last year, approximately 115,000 sea cargo containers entered the U.S. from the port of Antwerp. · Port of Le Havre, France: On June 28, 2002, Alain Cadiou, Director General of French Customs and Excise Service, agreed to participation of its Le Havre Seaport in the CSI. The port of Le Havre handles nearly 70 million tons of goods per year. Last year, approximately 108,300 sea cargo containers entered the U.S. from Le Havre. · Ports of Bremerhaven and Hamburg: On August 1, 2002, Wolfgang Ishinger, Germany’s Ambassador to the United States, announced that the government of Germany agreed to the participation of its Bremerhaven and Hamburg seaports in CSI. The port of Bremerhaven handles nearly 30 million tons of goods per year. The port of Hamburg handles nearly 31 million tons of goods per year. Last year, approximately 257,000 sea cargo containers entered the U.S. from Bremerhaven and 103,000 from Hamburg. Why is this necessary? CSI is an effort to enhance the security of the world’s maritime trading system. By working together, we can jointly achieve far greater security for maritime shipping than by working independently. Recognizing that trade is vital to the world economy, U.S. Customs has proposed the four-part program designed to achieve the objective of a more secure maritime trade environment while accommodating the need for efficiency in global commerce. A critical element in the success of this program will be the availability of advance information to perform sophisticated targeting. Where do we go from here? The top "mega-ports" are just a starting point. Customs identified the top 10 "mega-ports" that send containers to the United States, and is aggressively soliciting their participation in the CSI. These locations were identified based on their volume of sea container traffic destined for the U.S.; however, the CSI approach is not something that must be restricted to only these locations. On June 28,2002, the World Customs Organization unanimously passed a resolution that will enable ports in all 161 of the member nations to begin to develop programs along the CSI model. Risk assessments and trade analysis will play an important part in future deployments, and increased security measures are vital to the operations of any port in today’s environment.

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