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Securing US ports: but at what cost?

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-05-09

Under a 2007 US law, all shipping containers bound for the United States must be searched for possible bombs. All the world's ports have until 2012 to comply or will be banned from shipping to the US. Critics say the project will be much too costly.

To what extent can the fight against terrorism justify the management of the global economy? All countries that trade with the United States are now facing this question. In accordance with a 2007 US law, known as House Resolution No. 1, all containers departing for the United States – some 18 million a year – must be checked for possible bombs. All the world’s ports have until 2012 to comply. If they fail to do so, they will no longer be allowed to export their goods to the leading global economic power.  

 

The port of Southampton in Great Britain is one of three ports in the world so far to have received the approval of the US Department of Homeland Security. From Southampton's quays each year nearly a million containers depart for destinations around the world. So it is here that the United States decided to test its unprecedented security program, which uses highly sophisticated technology, and is installed and financed entirely by the United States under the resolution (House Resolution No. 1: Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007).

 

Steven Young, director of the port of Southampton, said the United States asked Southampton to test the system and offered to pay for it, so the port agreed. He says he expects that when the rest of the world eventually comes into compliance with the new US security program, Southampton will be ahead of the curve.

 

Britain already has plans to expand the program beyond Southampton’s ports by the 2012 deadline, as it also expects that the countries quickest to adopt the new US system will have a strategic advantage over their competitors.

Date created : 2009-05-09