Container Security Initiative Fact Sheet

When was the Container Security Initiative developed and why?

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, U.S. Customs Service, now U.S. Customs and Border Protection, began developing antiterrorism programs to help secure the United States. Within months of these attacks, U.S. Customs Service created the Container Security Initiative (CSI). The primary purpose of CSI is to protect the global trading system and the trade lanes between CSI ports and the U.S.. Under the CSI program, a team of officers is deployed to work with host nation counterparts to target all containers that pose a potential threat. Announced in January 2002, CSI was first implemented in the ports shipping the greatest volume of containers to the United States. Today, customs administrations all over the world have committed to joining CSI and are at various stages of implementation. CSI is now operational at ports in North, Central, and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and throughout Asia.

How does CSI work?

CSI addresses the threat to border security and global trade that is posed by potential terrorist use of a maritime container to deliver a weapon. CSI uses a security regime to ensure all containers that pose a potential risk for terrorism are identified and inspected at foreign ports before they are placed on vessels destined for the United Sates. Through CSI, CBP officials work with host customs administrations to establish security criteria for identifying high-risk containers. Those administrations use non-intrusive inspection (NII) and radiation detection technology to screen high-risk containers before they are shipped to U.S. ports.

What are CSI’s core elements?

The three core elements of CSI are:

  1. Identify high-risk containers. CBP uses automated targeting tools to identify containers that pose a potential risk for terrorism, based on advance information and strategic intelligence.
  2. Prescreen and evaluate containers before they are shipped. Containers are screened as early in the supply chain as possible, generally at the port of departure.
  3. Use technology to prescreen high-risk containers to ensure that screening can be done rapidly without slowing down the movement of trade. This technology includes large-scale X-ray and gamma ray machines and radiation detection devices.

What are CSI’s future goals?

Currently, approximately 90 percent of all transatlantic and transpacific cargo imported into the United States is subjected to prescreening. CSI continues to expand to strategic locations around the world. The World Customs Organization (WCO), the European Union (EU), and the G8 support CSI expansion and have adopted resolutions implementing CSI security measures introduced at ports throughout the world.

Does the U.S. offer reciprocity with CSI participating countries?

Yes. CSI, a reciprocal program, offers its participant countries the opportunity to send their customs officers to major U.S. ports to target ocean-going, containerized cargo being exported to their countries. Likewise, CBP shares information on a bilateral basis with its CSI partners. Japan and Canada currently station their customs personnel in some U.S. ports as part of the CSI program.

Why is containerized shipping a critical component of global trade?

Each year, 108 million cargo containers are transported among seaports around the world, constituting the most critical component of global trade. In fiscal year 2004, more than 9.6 million maritime containers arrived at United States seaports, an average of 26,000 a day. Almost 90 percent of the world’s manufactured goods move by container, much of it stacked many stories high on huge transport ships.
All trading nations depend on containerized shipping for the transportation of manufactured goods. About 40 percent of all incoming trade to the United States arrives by ship, and most of that is in sea containers. Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Japan, and Singapore, are even more dependent on sea container traffic.

How many CSI ports are operational?

58 CSI ports are currently operational. They include: Halifax, Montreal, and Vancouver, Canada (03/02); Rotterdam, The Netherlands (09/02/02); Le Havre, France (12/02/02); Marseille, France (01/07/05); Bremerhaven, Germany (02/02/03); Hamburg, Germany (02/09/03); Antwerp, Belgium (02/23/03); Zeebrugge, Belgium (10/29/04); Singapore (03/10/03); Yokohama, Japan (03/24/03); Tokyo, Japan (05/21/04); Hong Kong (05/05/03); Gothenburg, Sweden (05/23/03); Felixstowe, United Kingdom (U.K.) (05/24/03); Liverpool, Thamesport, Tilbury, and Southampton, U.K. (11/01/04); Genoa, Italy (06/16/03); La Spezia, Italy (06/23/03); Livorno, Italy (12/30/04); Naples, Italy (09/30/04); Gioia Tauro, Italy (10/31/04); Pusan, Korea (08/04/03); Durban, South Africa (12/01/03); Port Klang, Malaysia (03/08/04); Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia (8/16/04); Piraeus, Greece (07/27/04), Algeciras, Spain (07/30/04), Nagoya and Kobe, Japan (08/06/04), Laem Chabang, Thailand (8/13/04), Dubai; United Arab Emirates (UAE) (03/26/05); Shanghai (04/28/05), Shenzhen (06/24/05); Kaohsiung (07/25/05); and Santos, Brazil (09/22/05), Colombo, Sri Lanka (09/29/05), Buenos Aires, Argentina (11/17/05), Lisbon, Portugal (12/14/05), Port Salalah, Oman (03/08/06), Puerto Cortes, Honduras (03/25/06); Caucedo, Dominican Republic (09/25/06); Kingston, Jamaica (09/27/06); Barcelona and Valencia, Spain (09/25/06); Chi-Lung (09/25/06); Freeport, The Bahamas (09/30/06); Port Qasim, Pakistan (05/02/07); Balboa (08/27/07), Colón and Manzanillo (09/28/07), Panama; Cartagena, Columbia (09/13/07), Ashdod (09/17/07) and Haifa (09/25/07), Israel; and Alexandria, Egypt ((09/28/07).

Why is it necessary to send U.S. officers to foreign ports to enhance security?

Information sharing between the U.S. and other Customs Services enhances the ability of both services to identify all containers that pose a potential threat. By working together, we jointly achieve far greater security for maritime shipping that if we worked independently.

What benefits are there for any foreign ports that sign up?

CSI is a deterrent to terrorist organizations that may seek to target any foreign port. This initiative provides a significant measure of security for the participating port as well as the United States. CSI also provides better security for the global trading system as a whole. If terrorists were to carry out an attack on a seaport using a cargo container, the maritime trading system would likely grind to a halt until seaport security is improved. Those seaports participating in the CSI handle containerized cargo far sooner than other ports that haven’t taken steps to enhance security.

Will focusing primarily on the world’s largest seaports place smaller seaports at an economic disadvantage?

CSI is not limited to the world’s largest seaports. In June 2002, the World Customs Organization unanimously passed a resolution that will enable ports in all 161 of the member nations to begin to develop programs along the CSI model. On April 22, 2004, the European Union and the Department of Homeland Security signed an agreement that calls for the prompt expansion of CSI through the European Community.

What are the eligibility requirements for the expansion phase of CSI?

To be eligible for the expansion phase of CSI, candidate nation must commit to the following minimum standards:
1. The Customs Administration must be able to inspect cargo originating, transiting, exiting, or being transshipped through a country. NII equipment (including equipment with gamma or X-ray imaging capabilities) and radiation detection equipment must be available and utilized for conducting such inspections. This equipment is necessary in order to meet the objective of quickly screening containers without disrupting the flow of legitimate trade.
2. The seaport must have regular, direct, and substantial container traffic to ports in the United States.
3. Commit to establishing a risk management system to identify potentially high-risk containers, and automating that system. This system should include a mechanism for validating threat assessments and targeting decisions and identifying best practices.
4. Commit to sharing critical data, intelligence, and risk management information with the United States Customs and Border Protection in order to do collaborative targeting, and developing an automated mechanism for these exchanges.
5. Conduct a thorough port assessment to ascertain vulnerable links in a port’s infrastructure and commit to resolving those vulnerabilities.
6. Commit to maintaining integrity programs to prevent lapses in employee integrity and to identify and combat breaches in integrity.

Does the addition of U.S. officers cause delays in the flow of goods through ports that participate in CSI, reducing their competitiveness?

No. In fact, it should make the movement of low risk cargo containers even more efficient. Cargo typically sits on the pier for several days waiting to be exported. CSI targets containers and screens them before they depart. This way we use the waiting time at the port of export to do our work, so when the container arrives in the U.S. it can be immediately released. The containers we target are going to be searched. It’s a question of where and when, not if.

Who pays for screening and, if necessary, the unloading of containers?

The host country determines who pays for the direct cost of screening and unloading containers. In the U.S., however, the importer pays the costs associated with moving, inspecting, and unloading containers.

How many U.S. officers are assigned to a particular port?

The needs of each port are addressed individually. Typically we begin by deploying a small number of officers, then assess the program and make adjustments as necessary.

Does a CSI port have an economic advantage?

One real advantage would be in the event of a terrorist attack using a cargo container. CSI ports would experience the least disruption because they have a security system, CSI, in place. In the event of a terrorist attack, the CSI ports would have a competitive advantage. They would be rewarded for their foresight.

Can CSI be considered a form of trade barrier?

No. The ultimate trade barrier would be a terrorist attack that would halt trade. Imagine the ridicule any responsible port or government official will face, if a terrorist attack was to occur and we had done nothing to protect our maritime infrastructure. CSI is merely a program that screens containers before they depart for U.S. ports of entry rather than after they arrive on U.S. shores.

Do host countries incur additional costs for participating in CSI?

We don’t believe this initiative entails substantial new costs to the host nations. CBP pays to deploy officers and computers in foreign seaports and many host nations already have screening and detection technology in place. To the extent that additional detector or IT equipment is needed to implement CSI, the investment is well worth it considering that it is insurance — CSI protects the port and the national economy of a CSI host country.

Are officers stationed in foreign ports armed? Do they have arrest powers?

No, Officers at these ports are not armed nor do they have arrest powers. The officers work jointly with the host country authorities to screen U.S.-bound containers. They operate in accordance with the guidelines of the host country and the terms of the declaration of principles to implement CSI.

Do CBP officers stationed at the foreign ports screen all cargo or just cargo bound for the United States?

CBP officers deployed in foreign countries target with the host country only cargo containers destined for or transiting through the United States. Only those U.S.-bound containers identified as potential threats are examined either by NII or physical exams. Host country officials conduct the examination and CBP officers observe the security screening.

Does pre-screened U.S.-bound sea cargo get expedited processing through CBP upon arrival to the United States?

Yes. If a shipment has already been jointly examined by U.S. and the host country’s customs officials, that is one less shipment that CBP officers will have to worry about at a U.S. port. It allows us to focus more of our attention on high-risk shipments that have not been prescreened. We are always testing new technology, such as tamper-evident seals, that we hope to place on containers that have been pre-screened overseas to assist in this process. Naturally, CBP ultimately reserves the right to inspect any cargo container that arrives in the United States, whether it has been pre-screened or not. However, this is only done if additional information becomes available during transit, or the integrity of a seal is found to be compromised.

Does CBP provide X-ray or gamma ray detection technology to help scan containers?

CSI implementation requires the host country to have NII equipment. Many of the countries already have large container screening machines. In fact, some ports already have extremely sophisticated detection technology in operation.

Are model laws and regulations available to guide the implementation of CSI in a host country?

When discussing the implementation of CSI, a nation depends upon its native laws and customs. Our response has been to draft separate and unique declarations with each participating port to accommodate differences. In addition, as CSI is a cooperative effort, CBP can assist foreign governments in reviewing existing laws and crafting new legislation to support implementation if they so desire.

Has CSI affect the way trade is conducted, e.g. is there be additional paperwork that is needed prior to export and before it clears CBP?

Through collaborative targeting and analysis, the trade has become more secure in each commercial port. For exports destined for or transiting through the U.S., they must be compliant with the U.S. 24-hour rule, which requires 14 data elements to be reported 24 hours prior to loading aboard a vessel destined for the U.S..

Does it take more time to export a product with CSI?

No. The targeting and examination are accomplished during the lag time between the cargo’s arrival at the foreign port and it’s time of being loaded onto a ship for departure to a U.S. port.

How is trade affected if a port joins/does not join?

The advantages of inspecting containers at the earliest possible point in the supply chain is of benefit to a CSI port. The integrity of the shipment is better ensured by using pre-arrival information and non-intrusive inspection equipment at foreign port locations, thus expediting their clearance upon arrival in the United States.

ABI Benefits for the Trade and Participants

ABI Benefits for the Trade

  • Expedited cargo release.
  • Electronic transmission, validation, confirmation, and correction for entry summaries.
  • Payment options such as daily statement and electronic payment through the Automated Clearinghouse (ACH).
  • Validated duties, taxes, and fees.
  • Interactive communication with Customs.
  • Courtesy notices of liquidation, extension, and suspension.
  • Consolidated reports under the National Importer Liquidation Program.
  • Error statistics available monthly.
  • Timely tariff updates.
  • Query capabilities.
  • Uniform entry summary processing.

ABI Participants Include

  • brokers
  • importers
  • carriers
  • port authorities
  • service centers
  • law firms
  • surety companies

Since its inception in 1984, ABI has seen remarkable growth. During fiscal year 1999 the number of participants reached 2,782; entries filed via ABI exceeded 98 percent; and the total number of ABI entries was 21.1 million.

Format for Binding Ruling Numbers

The Office of Regulations and Rulings has adopted a new system for the internal tracking of rulings issued by the National Commodity Specialist Division (NCS) and by Headquarters, Office of Regulations and Rulings, effective November 2006. The system is called Regulations and Rulings Tracking System (RRTS). It has replaced the Legal Case Inventory System. RRTS functions by creating a unique number for each ruling that is issued. It is a unified system, which issues case numbers consecutively, regardless of whether the case is issued by NCS or HQ. As a result, since the numerical portion of the ruling number will no longer be a basis to distinguish NCS rulings from HQ rulings, it was decided to place an Alpha code in front of the six digit numerical code for the rulings. For rulings issued by the NCS division, the alpha code is N. For HQ rulings, the alpha code is H.

It has come to our attention that the field in ABI for setting forth the ruling number is too small to accommodate all seven digits of the ruling number. Accordingly, for the present, the ABI filer should drop the alpha code and enter only the numerical portion of the ruling number. CBP HQ will pursue appropriate system changes to allow the full ruling number to be entered.