LE HAVRE SEAPORT JOINS CUSTOMS’ CONTAINER SECURITY INITIATIVE
The U.S. Customs Service said Friday the government of France has agreed to allow the port of Le Havre to participate in Customs’ Container Security Initiative.
CSI is a Customs program designed to prevent terrorists from smuggling weapons of mass destruction in cargo containers. Le Havre becomes the third port in Europe to participate in CSI.
“France has again shown its commitment to the anti-terrorism campaign,” said Customs Commissioner Robert Bonner. “Our agreements with the Netherlands, Belgium, and now France will provide a significant measure of security for Europe, the United States, and the global trading system as a whole.”
Launched by Customs this January, the CSI initiative calls for placing U.S. Customs inspectors at foreign seaports to target and pre-screen U.S.-bound cargo containers prior to departure for America. Roughly 200 million ocean containers move annually among the world’s busiest seaports, and nearly 50 percent of the value of all U.S. imports arrives by ocean containers every year.
Under the agreement, Customs will place a small team of inspectors at Le Havre equipped with U.S. targeting databases, and French Customs officers will be responsible for screening any containers identified as a potential risk.
“Security measures are of major concern to the port of Le Havre, and we are seeking to harmonize our efforts with other European ports,” said Jean-Marc Lacave, executive director of the Port of Le Havre Authority. Le Havre is in a good strategic position as a member of CSI, Lacave added, since it is the last port of call in Europe for ships before they cross the Atlantic Ocean.
The Port of Le Havre has existing security measures, including a container scanner and an electronic data interchange system linking all members of the port community.
The fourth-largest port in Northern Europe, Le Havre is awaiting construction of its Cargo 2000 container complex, which will add a dozen berths, as the port authority expects to double its annual container traffic to 3 million TEUs within four years.
U.S. Customs is also in discussion with several other nations in Europe and Asia about forming additional CSI partnerships.