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Singapore Port Authority Tightens Security - 2002-06-19

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore pledged to play its part in defending global trade by deterring terrorists from smuggling weapons through its ports. The port authority is meeting with shipping executives to discuss enhanced port safety in cooperation with the United States.

The Maritime and Port Authority said the container and security initiative (CSI) with the U.S. Customs Service will not create freight bottlenecks, despite more stringent checks on cargo destined for the United States.

Port Authority Policy Director Mary Seet-Cheng said the plan is good for both Singapore and the United States, in terms of safety and efficiency.

"Working with them will also add to securing our port as a good place to do business. We expect the pre-screened containers, if we are a CSI port, will mean that our containers will get expedited clearance at US ports. And we hope that this will mean advantages for our shippers and our shipping lines so that more containers will be routed to and through our port," he said.

The Singapore Port Authority said it will use new security measures such as X-ray examinations and improved data collection. "I think the most important aspect of any container security system is the risk-profiling of containers so that you target only a minimal number of containers for screening. This targeting system requires extensive intelligence gathering and very careful screening of data," the Port Authority said.

But some shipping executives worry about the system. The Chief Operating Officer of American President Lines, Ed Aldrige, said there is a need for an internationally accepted security standard for cargo. He suggested the International Maritime Organization should coordinate the standards. Mr. Aldrige said having the International Maritime Organization would help insure that extra security does not slow trade or raise costs.