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Declaration of Principles relating to implementation of US Container Security Initiative (CSI) by Sri Lanka was signed by
Mr. Sarath Jayatilleke (right) Director-General, Sri Lanka Customs and Mr. Douglas Browning, Deputy Commissioner of
US Customs and Boarder Protection on 25th June 2003 at the US Embassy in Brussels, Belgium.

Sri Lanka and the United States today signed a Declaration of Principles (DOP) for the U.S. Container Security Initiative (CSI). The document was signed by Sri Lanka’s Customs Director-General, Mr. Sarath Jayathilake and Deputy Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Mr. Douglas M. Browning in Brussels, Belgium at the U.S. Mission to the European Union. The two Customs Chiefs were in Brussels to attend the World Customs Organization Annual Meeting. Present at the signing ceremony was Mr. Romesh Jayasinghe, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union.

Devinda R. Subasinghe, Sri Lankan Ambassador to the U.S. said: "I am very pleased that Sri Lanka joined the Container Security Initiative within a short period of time. This demonstrates Sri Lanka’s firm commitment to cooperate with the U.S. in the fight against terrorism and the protection of the homeland. The CSI will facilitate the clearance of exports, safeguard containerized cargo, and the maritime trading system against terrorism."

“The Declaration of Principles that we signed today, while marking a milestone in the cooperation between the customs authorities of Sri Lanka and US will strengthen the risk assessment capability of the Colombo Port. It will also help to streamline Port Operations. I therefore welcome this initiative." said Mr. Sarath Jayathilake, Director-General, Sri Lanka Customs.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Deputy Commissioner Browning concluded by saying: “I applaud the government of Sri Lanka for their strong support in helping to make a safer, more secure world trading system. CSI is essential in securing an indispensable, but vulnerable link in the chain of global trade: containerized shipping.”

The CSI was launched by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11. Now within the Department of Homeland Security, the CSI will increase the security of the world's maritime trading system through strengthened customs co-operation at seaports. Under the Declaration of Principles, Sri Lanka Customs and U.S. Customs and Border Protection will exchange information and work closely together to identify and screen high-risk containers bound for the U.S. A small number of CBP officers will be deployed at the Colombo port to work jointly with Sri Lankan counterparts to pre-screen and target high-risk cargo containers.

CSI consists of four core elements:

  1. Utilizing intelligence and automated information to identify and target high-risk containers;
  2. Pre-screening containers identified as high-risk, at the port of departure, before they arrive at U.S. ports;
  3. Using detection technology to quickly pre-screen high-risk containers; and
  4. Using smarter, tamper-evident containers. Globally, over 48 million full cargo containers move between major seaports each year.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is continuing to implement CSI at major ports around the world. Most of the top 20 ports identified for the first phase of CSI have agreed to join and are at various stages of implementation. They include (by container cargo volume): Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Kaohsiung, Rotterdam, Pusan, Bremerhaven, Tokyo, Genoa, Yantian, Antwerp, Nagoya, Le Havre, Hamburg, La Spezia, Felixstowe, Algeciras, Kobe, Yokohama. and Laem Chabang.

The port of Colombo, which is the busiest harbor in South Asia, will soon join the already operational CSI ports of Rotterdam, LeHavre, Bremerhaven, Hamburg, and Antwerp in Europe, Singapore in Asia, and Vancouver, Montreal, and Halifax in Canada.

“This outcome is the result of the Trade and Investment Agreement (TIFA) signed between the U.S. and Sri Lanka during Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe’s meeting with President Bush in July 2002 and the ongoing meeting of the Joint Council. The US is the largest single market for Sri Lanka’s exports (41 percent of all exports), valued at approximately US$ 2 billion” according to Ambassador Subasinghe. The CSI is also important in positioning Sri Lanka as a transportation hub and the gateway to the subcontinent.

Sri Lanka is strategically located at a key crossroads in the global trading system with a high potential for detecting items of concern. Approximately 70 percent of the containers handled in Sri Lanka are transshipments. Last year, roughly 157,087 sea cargo containers entered the United States from the port of Colombo.

Sri Lanka has already set in motion necessary actions to acquire the required equipment to implement this initiative. A US Customs delegation is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka in August this year to discuss necessary preparatory steps to implement CSI at the Colombo Port.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

25 June 2003


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