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Singapore Straits Times Article

  1. 729 Posts.
    The US Customs site carries a link to this article in Monday's Straits Times. Note the reference to containers that pass inspection in Singapore being secured with smart electronic seals so that inspectors can see whether they have been subsequently tampered with. It also states that 50,000 containers enter the US every day. At the low point of MIK's price range of $1 per seal even if only a relatively small proportion of these containers have smart & secure seals that represents very significant income for MIK. I am also led to believe that a single container would require a number of seals. However, it is only a relatively small impost for importers and exporters and could probably be built into customs or port fees.

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    US Customs to screen containers here
    Officials will be deployed at S'pore ports to ensure US-bound containers are not hiding weapons terrorists could use

    By Goh Chin Lian

    AS PART of a global fight against terrorism, United States' Customs officials will soon be deployed at ports here to help the authorities ensure that goods being shipped to the US are 'clean'.

    Singapore is the first country in Asia to adopt the new counter-terrorism security procedures under a Container Security Initiative proposed by US Customs in January.

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    The initiative aims to pre-screen US-bound containers at the world's mega ports to prevent the smuggling of any form of weapons, including nuclear arms, that could be used by terrorists.

    Other ports in the region, such as the Hongkong port, have also expressed interest in taking part in such cargo-screening exercises.

    According to Singapore's Transport Ministry, the pilot project is expected to benefit shippers and shipping lines as this means that their checked containers will receive 'fast-lane' customs clearance at US ports.

    While more checks will be conducted here, the ministry told The Straits Times that efforts will be made to minimise any impact on port efficiency.

    US Customs' Acting Assistant Commissioner Donald Shruhan was here last week to discuss the initiative with government agencies.

    On the meeting, a ministry spokesman said: 'The US Customs had assured us that both countries could work together to customise the initiative so that it would meet our requirements.'

    The US officials, he said, are 'keenly aware' that any new security system should not disrupt the quick processing of containers here.

    A key area of cooperation will be to develop a 'risk-profiling' system that identifies suspect cargo for screening.

    In a telephone interview from Washington, US Customs spokesman Dennis Murphy said its customs inspectors would use their own database to review the declared contents of each container and share information with the Singapore Customs, which also has its own stringent system of checks.

    'We'll take what we learn and see what they know and make decisions jointly.

    'If there is a question about the shipment, Singapore officials will take the lead and we'll assist them.'

    Containers that pass the checks could be secured with 'smart' electronic seals that alert inspectors if anyone has subsequently tampered with the cargo, said Mr Murphy.

    Addressing shippers' concerns about delays, he noted that due to the heightened security against terrorism, it is a question of whether the containers are screened in Singapore or in the US.

    If it is done in Singapore, 'it'll be one step you don't have to take in the US,' he said.

    More than 50,000 containers arrive in the US daily from all over the world, and Singapore reportedly ranks third after Hongkong and Shanghai in the volume of US-bound container traffic.

    The procedure will benefit the global trading system, said Mr Murphy.

    'It helps to deter terrorists and it's an extra layer of protection against the eventuality of a terrorist attack.'



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    HIGH-RISK'

    A US-BOUND container that lists toilet paper as its cargo would make Customs inspectors sit up.

    Such 'unusual commodities' are a sign something may be amiss. Said US Customs spokesman Dennis Murphy: 'It doesn't make sense to ship a container full of toilet paper around the world when you can get them from the neighbourhood.'

    US Customs analyses the cargo information against a database of shipments for the last 10 years in the hope of gathering sufficient intelligence to pick out high-risk cargo, he said.


 
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