South Africa joins US Container Security Initiative (CSI)

Jul 23, 2003
Author: P&S

US Customs & Border Protection (CBP) personnel will shortly take up posts in the port of Durban checking containers intended for the United States.

Earlier in July South Africa became the second country in phase two of the programme to sign the US Container Security Initiative (CSI), which among other things permits the CBP to place their personnel in foreign ports.

The agreement, which is the only formal programme in operation today that is designed to detect and deter terrorists from exploiting the vulnerabilities of containerised cargo, was signed in Washington DC by the commissioner of the SA Revenue Services (SARS), Pravin Gordhan, and CBP commissioner Robert C Bonner.

US Customs & Border Protection will now deploy a team of officers to the port of Durban where they will work with their SARS counterparts in targeting high-risk containers destined for the United States.

SARS personnel will remain responsible for screening any container identified jointly with CBP officers as a potential terrorist risk. Under the reciprocity rule, SARS intends stationing customs personnel in the United States.

CBP is required to also share its information and pre-arrival data on a bilateral basis with its CSI partners.

“This is an important step, it is not just historically important, it is also economically important,” said commissioner Bonner at the signing ceremony in Washington on 15 July. He applauded the South African government for its strong support in helping to make a safer, more secure world trading system. “CSI is essential in securing an indispensable, but vulnerable link in the chain of global trade and containerised shipping.”

US Customs developed the CSI initiative in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, which highlighted the vulnerability of countries to sneak terrorist attack. So far 19 governments representing 20 of the world’s top 20 ports have agreed to implement CSI, with 15 ports in phase 1 having become already operational.

The 15 ports include Rotterdam, Le Havre, Bremerhaven, Hamburg, Antwerp, Singapore, Yokohama, Hong Kong, Göteborg, Felixstowe, Genoa, La Spezia, Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax.

The top 20 ports are responsible for approximately 68 % of cargo containers shipped to the United States.

Durban will become the first port in Africa. The other country to sign in phase 2 is Sri Lanka.

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