Caribbean ports decry lack of grants
While the U.S. pours hundreds of millions of dollars into port security grants, Caribbean ports are faced with the prospect of raising port security standards to U.S. levels with little or no financial assistance, the Caribbean Shipping Association's general manager said.
Stephen Bell said the funding discrepancy is especially troubling because the Caribbean is effectively a 'third border' to the United States, with high volumes of goods and people moving between the U.S. and Caribbean nations.
'How can these small, poor countries finance this cost?' he asked in a statement on the CSA Web site. He added that the costly new security demands are having a 'stifling effect' on national economies throughout the region.
Bell made the same case at the recent Secure Port 2008 conference in Houston, and CSA officials have been mounting an increasingly vocal campaign to draw attention to the problems with growing Caribbean port security costs.
He noted ports are faced with the challenge of buying 'extremely expensive technology for port security, or otherwise ships and cargo passing through our ports will not be allowed to enter the United States of America. On top of that, the Caribbean is also now faced with the challenge of 100 percent scanning of containers,' which could well lead to 'crippling congestion.'
He estimated Caribbean nations ship 11 million containers a year to the United States, and that shippers might ultimately have to cover the costs if Caribbean countries cannot receive financial assistance that has been so critical to U.S. port security efforts.