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Hong Kong participates in the US Secure Freight Initiative

    Hong Kong and the United States today (July 27) exchanged letters of understanding on co-operation on the US Secure Freight Initiative (SFI).  Under the arrangements set out in the letters, Hong Kong will be participating in the SFI in a limited capacity on a pilot basis.

     The letters were signed by Hong Kong's Director-General of Trade and Industry, Mr Joseph Lai Yee-tak and Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Mr Richard Yuen Ming-fai, and US Acting Consul-General, Mr Christopher J. Marut.

     Mr Lai said, "As a major business hub and one of the busiest container ports in the world, Hong Kong fully recognises the importance of enhancing the security of the global maritime trading system through international co-operation.  A more secure maritime trade environment will help ensure the smooth flow of sea borne cargo."

     ˇ§Hong Kongˇ¦s port already contributes positively towards a safe international maritime trade environment.  Our participation in SFI would provide added assurances, thereby further enhancing the competitiveness of the port of Hong Kong,ˇ¨ he stressed.

     Explaining the objective of the SFI pilot scheme, Mr Yuen said the aim was to utilise radiation detection, imaging, and related equipment to scan maritime cargo containers to help detect and interdict illicit trafficking of special nuclear material and other radioactive material destined for the US.  He said that the Customs authorities of the two places would work closely together to facilitate the identification and screening of high-risk containers.

     The pilot project in Hong Kong will be of a limited scale and duration.  Containers leaving Hong Kong for the US delivered through the in-gate of a designated terminal in Kwai Chung (Modern Terminals Ltd) will be scanned on a voluntary basis.  US-bound containers which have undergone the scanning process will be less likely to be subject to security inspection on their arrival at the US ports.

     ˇ§We will strive to enhance the security of container cargo passing through our port, while maintaining our port efficiency,ˇ¨ emphasised Mr Yuen.

     ˇ§To facilitate the early commencement of the SFI pilot scheme in Hong Kong, we will work closely with our US colleagues as well as the industry on the detailed implementational arrangements,ˇ¨ added Mr Yuen.

     The SFI is an initiative put forward by the US government to safeguard global maritime cargo through co-operation with the maritime industry and governments of trading partners.  The SFI is being or will be implemented, on a pilot basis in six other ports in Pakistan, Honduras, the United Kingdom, Oman, Singapore, and Korea.

Ends/Friday, July 27, 2007
Issued at HKT 17:00


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