Press Release

Hong Kong works to implement US container security initiative

Hong Kong and the United States today (September 23) signed a Declaration of Principles on bilateral customs co-operation in relation to the US Container Security Initiative (CSI).

The document was signed by Hong Kong's Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Mr Raymond Wong Hung-chiu and the Commissioner of the US Customs Service, Mr Robert C Bonner.

The CSI is an initiative to enhance the security of the world's maritime trading system through strengthened customs co-operation at seaports.

Under the Declaration of Principles, the Hong Kong and US Customs will exchange information and work together closely to facilitate the identification and screening of high-risk containers.

"It demonstrates the Hong Kong government's commitment to safeguarding the global maritime trade system against terrorism," Mr Wong said.

He said it was the beginning of co-operation between the two customs services towards the implementation of the Container Security Initiative in Hong Kong.

Participation in the CSI was expected to help ensure the smooth flow of US bound cargo and further enhance the competitiveness of the port.

Mr Wong said the tragic events of September 11 had triggered considerable concern about possible severe disruption to global maritime trade in the event of a disastrous terrorist attack involving sea borne containers.

"As a leading logistics hub, Hong Kong fully recognises the importance of enhancing the security of the world's maritime trading system through strengthened customs co-operation at seaports. A more secure maritime trade environment will no doubt help ensure the smooth flow of sea borne cargo," he said.

"We look forward to working closely with our US colleagues on the details of co-operation. Further consultation with stakeholders will continue.

"Our aim is to work out a set of practical arrangements that will enhance the security of sea-going cargo passing through our port, while accommodating the need for maintaining our port efficiency."

Mr Wong said that in taking this step towards implementing a CSI pilot scheme in Hong Kong, the government had considered a host of factors including ocean container security, the impact on trade as well as port efficiency and competitiveness.

Today's signing ceremony was witnessed by the Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr Henry Tang, and the US Consul General, Mr James Keith

Ends/Monday, September 23, 2002

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