Sri Lanka has signed an agreement to join the Container Security Initiative (CSI). Only two weeks ago, the Department of Homeland Security announced to beginning of Phase II of CSI, expanding the program to more than just the top 20 foreign container ports.
The agreement marks the first CSI signing since Tom Ridge, Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and CBP Commissioner Bonner announced the launch of Phase 2 of CSI just two weeks ago.
As part of the CSI program, CBP will deploy a team of officers to the port of Colombo to work with host government personnel to target high-risk cargo containers destined for the United States. Officials of the Sri Lanka government are responsible for screening any container identified jointly with CBP officers as a potential terrorist risk.
"This is an important step, it is not just historically important, it is also economically important," Deputy Commissioner Browning said, "It is important that we stand shoulder to shoulder against a new and unusual common enemy to protect not only our citizens, but also our economic strength and well being as well."
"The Declaration of Principles that we signed today, while marking a milestone in the cooperation between the customs authorities of Sri Lanka and US will strengthen the risk assessment capability of the Colombo Port. It will also help to streamline Port Operations. I therefore welcome this initiative" said Mr. Sarath Jayathilake, Director-General, Sri Lanka Customs
On Thursday, June 12, 2003, Secretary Ridge and CBP Commissioner Robert C. Bonner announced
that CSI will be expanding to strategic locations beyond the 20 initial major ports to include areas of the Middle East such as Dubai. CBP is also coordinating agreements with Sri Lanka, key ports in Africa, ports in Latin America, and other major ports in Asia and Europe.
Most recently, the governments of Malaysia and Sweden have joined CSI. In Europe, CBP is looking to expand CSI to at least 11 additional ports to include Livorno, Gioia Tauro, and Naples.
“As part of CSI Phase 2, we will be expanding CSI to other ports that ship substantial amounts of cargo to the United States, and that have the infrastructure and technology in place to participate in the program. CSI Phase 2 will enable us to extend port security protection to more than 80 percent of all containers coming to the United States casting the safety net of CSI far and wide, Commissioner Bonner said.