Thu, Aug 07, 2003 - Page 3 News List

US wants Kaohsiung in shipping security program

CNA , WASHINGTON

Washington is eager about the progress of its Container Security Initiative (CSI) -- a plan highly conducive to US national security -- and has already invited Kaohsiung Harbor to take part, Taiwan's top envoy in the US said Tuesday.

Taiwan's southern port city of Kaohsiung is expected to be linked up to the CSI, a global anti-terrorism seaport network initiated earlier this year, after China's Shanghai and Shenzhen, said Chen Chien-jen (程建仁), representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US.

The CSI was announced by the US Customs Service on Feb. 22 last year as a means of strengthening port and maritime security without interrupting the flow of trade.

The plan, initiated after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, is aimed mainly at protecting the US from possible dangers arriving on the more than 8,000 ships that enter the country from all over the world each year.

During a meeting with the press at the Twin Oaks Garden, Chen said that US and Taiwan authorities have agreed on a schedule, within this month, for bilateral talks on matters pertaining to Kaohsiung's CSI inclusion. He did not elaborate on the location for such talks.

Chen noted that as far as he knows, the Taiwan side would have hoped that the talks could have been held "a little bit later."

Kaohsiung Harbor is among the top 20 ports around the world that have been mapped to be included in the first-phase implementation of the port safety plan.

According to officials from the Kaohsiung Harbor Bureau, the US Customs Service has said it hopes that Taiwan will sign the CSI agreement as soon as possible.

Failure to do so could jeopardize Taiwan containers' rights to be processed speedily at US ports,customs service sources have warned.

Kaohsiung Harbor is the world's fifth-largest container port, handling 8.4 million containers last year. Of that total, 500,000 to 600,000 standard containers headed to the US, including some transshipped to other countries, according to Kaohsiung Harbor Bureau officials.

Of the world's top 20 seaports listed by the US Customs Service, Kaohsiung Harbor ranks fourth -- behind Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore -- in terms of the volume of container traffic destined for the US.

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