- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 2, 2003

An antiterrorism initiative to secure cargo leaving ports in Durban, South Africa, and bound for the United States began yesterday — the 17th port internationally to take part in the program.

Known as the Container Security Initiative (CSI), the program currently is operational in Rotterdam, Netherlands; LeHavre, France; Bremerhaven and Hamburg, Germany; Antwerp, Belgium; Singapore; Yokohama, Japan; Hong Kong; Goteborg, Sweden; Felixstowe, England; Genoa and La Spezia, Italy; Busan, South Korea; and the Canadian ports of Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax.

“By implementing the Container Security Initiative, the government of South Africa is helping to make a safer, more secure world trading system,” said Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Robert C. Bonner. “CSI is essential in securing an indispensable, but vulnerable link in the chain of global trade: containerized shipping.”

Mr. Bonner and Pravin J. Gordhan, commissioner of the South Africa Revenue Service, jointly announced the start of the program.

CBP will deploy a team of officers to the port of Durban as part of the program to work with the South African government to target high-risk cargo containers bound for the United States. Officials of the South Africa Revenue Service are responsible for screening any container identified jointly with CBP officers as a potential terrorist risk.

The CSI program consists of four core elements:

• Using intelligence and automated information to identify and target high-risk containers.

• Pre-screening those containers identified as high risk at the port of departure before they head for U.S. ports.

• Using detection technology to quickly screen high-risk containers.

• Using smarter, tamper-evident containers.

Mr. Bonner said CSI is the only formal program in operation today designed to detect and deter terrorists from exploiting the vulnerabilities of containerized cargo.

But, he said, CSI is also a reciprocal program: CBP offers participating countries the opportunity to send their customs officers to major U.S. ports to target cargo exported to their country via ocean containers.

CBP, he said, also will share information and pre-arrival data on a bilateral basis with its CSI partners. Sharing of information is intended to be a reciprocal process.

Under an agreement signed in June, South Africa will send customs personnel to the United States. Japan and Canada currently station customs personnel in U.S. ports as part of the CSI program. Japanese customs personnel are stationed at the port of Los Angeles/Long Beach. Canadian Customs agents are stationed at Newark, N.J., and Seattle.

Mr. Bonner said containerized shipping is a critical component of global trade because most international trade moves or is transported in cargo containers. He said about 90 percent of all world cargo moves by container, and that half of the incoming trade arrives in the United States by containers on board ships.

Nearly 7 million cargo containers arrive and are offloaded at U.S. seaports each year.

CSI was developed by the U.S. Customs Service, now a part of CBP, in the wake of the September 11 attacks on America. In addition to those countries already participating in the program, the governments of Malaysia and Sweden have already joined CSI and CBP is looking to expand the program into at least 11 additional ports.

“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,” Mr. Bonner said. “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 CSI safety net even further.”

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