Robert C. Bonner, Commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service
, today announced the signing of a declaration by Hong Kong 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 applaud the government of Hong Kong for joining the U.S. Customs Service Container Security Initiative. Hong Kong has taken a very important step towards securing the global supply chain of trade, from Asia to the United States
," said Commissioner Bonner.
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 key crossroads in the global trading system.
Under the agreement reached today, Hong Kong becomes an important CSI port in Asia. U.S. Customs is working with Hong Kong on the details of the project, which will involve placing a small team of U.S. Customs inspectors in Hong Kong. U.S. Customs inspectors will work jointly with authorities in Hong Kong to pre-screen and target high-risk cargo containers bound for America.
The port of Hong Kong is one of the world’s largest. It ranks number one in the world in terms of the number of cargo containers handled. It ranks number one in terms of the flow of containers into the U.S.
Hong Kong is positioned at a key crossroad in the global trading system, with a high potential to detect items of concern. Last year, nearly 560,000 sea cargo containers entered America from
the port of Hong Kong.
Earlier this year, U.S. Customs reached accords with Singapore, Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Germany to exchange Customs inspectors at select seaports to prescreen containers bound for each nation. The U.S. Customs Service is currently in discussions with several other nations, including countries in Europe and Asia, about forming partnerships under CSI.