Robert C. Bonner, Commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service
, today announced the signing of a declaration by the government of Singapore to join the Container Security Initiative (CSI), a key U.S. Customs initiative designed to prevent global sea cargo from being exploited by terrorists to inflict harm on America and other nations of the world.
"I congratulate the government of Singapore for becoming the first Asian port to join the U.S. Customs Container Security," said Commissioner Bonner. "Today's signing marks an important first for the global supply chain of trade, from Asia to the United States. Now our implementation work begins. Together, we can ensure that trade is facilitated while our mutual security in enhanced."
Launched by U.S. Customs in January 2002, the CSI is designed to enhance the security of global maritime shipping, a vital link in world commerce. Some 200 million sea cargo containers move annually among the world's top seaports, and nearly 50 percent of the value of all U.S. imports arrive via sea cargo containers every year.
A core element of CSI involves placing U.S. Customs inspectors at foreign seaports to screen U.S.-bound cargo containers before they are shipped to America. U.S. Customs officials, working with their foreign counterparts, would be in a position to detect Weapons of Mass Destruction and other instruments of terror at these foreign ports. Because roughly 68 percent of the 5.7 million sea containers entering the U.S. annually arrive from just 20 foreign seaports, Customs is initially focusing on these "mega" ports as crossroads in the global trading system.
Under the agreement reached today, Singapore became the first CSI pilot port in Asia. U.S. Customs officials are currently working with Singapore on the details of the project, which will involve placing a small team of U.S. Customs inspectors in Singapore. U.S. Customs inspectors would work jointly with authorities in Singapore to pre-screen and target high-risk cargo containers bound for America.
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. As such, Singapore is positioned at a key crossroad in the global trading system with a high potential for detecting items of concern. 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.
Earlier this year, U.S. Customs reached accords with Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Germany to exchange Customs inspectors at select seaports to pre-screen containers bound for each nation. Singapore was the first mega-port to agree to join CSI. The U.S. Customs Service is currently in discussions with several other nations, including countries in Europe and Asia, about forming partnerships under CSI.