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Homeland Security

25 May 2005

Brazil Signs On to U.S. Container Security Initiative

Initiative intended to help safeguard global maritime trade

By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- Brazil has signed an agreement with the United States making South America's largest seaport, the city of Santos, a participant in the U.S. Container Security Initiative, which screens for potential weapons of mass destruction.

The May 24 agreement makes Santos, a major export center in southeastern Brazil, a strategic location for screening cargo destined for the United States, said the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia.

The U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, John Danilovich, signed a declaration of principles in Brasilia with Brazil's Secretary of the Federal Revenue Secretariat, Antonio Deher Rachid, committing the Santos seaport to the initiative.

In a May 24 statement, Danilovich praised Brazil for signing the agreement, saying that the country has taken a "significant step" toward safeguarding global maritime trade.

Danilovich said that by bringing the largest port in South America under the initiative's "security blanket," Brazil will participate in the "only multinational program in place in the world today that is protecting global trade lanes from being exploited and disrupted by international terrorists."

The U.S. Embassy said Santos is the second port in South America to be included in the initiative.  Argentina signed an agreement with the United States May 9, enabling all U.S.-bound cargo at the Argentine port of Buenos Aires to be targeted and pre-screened for terrorists and terrorist weapons.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security, developed the container initiative following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States.  The initiative's prime purpose is to protect the global trading system and trade lanes connecting foreign ports with the United States.

The U.S. Embassy said that under the security program, U.S. officers work with host-nation counterparts to identify and examine all containers that pose a potential threat before they are shipped to the United States. Nearly 9 million cargo containers, representing almost half of all incoming trade to the United States, arrive at U.S. seaports every year.

The embassy said 37 ports, representing 22 countries, have committed to the initiative.

More information about the U.S. Container Security Initiative is available on the CPB Web site.

The U.S. agreement with Brazil follows May 12 remarks by U.S. Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Steven Blust, who said that all countries have a "vested interest" in the security of maritime commerce, and "we all have a role to play."

In his remarks to the Sea Cargo Americas conference in Miami, Blust said the most effective way to address maritime security is to "ensure security throughout the entire supply chain, beginning with the original agreement between the buyer and seller."

He said that "securing the supply chain is not an easy process, and it will only come through multilateral effort and cooperation."

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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