possibility that foreign governments would call for reciprocity of 100% scanning by the United States of outbound containers. 68
Many foreign shippers, port authorities, and U.S. businesses overseas are viewing this goal of 100% scanning with some alarm.69 Shanghai, for example, is the world’s second most busy port with total container throughput of 26.1 million units in 2007.70 In Shanghai most containers are shipped from manufacturers on smaller boats that gather at an island port offshore where they are loaded onto ocean going vessels. Scanning a container as it is being transferred from one boat to another is extremely difficult.71 The American Chamber of Commerce in China has stated that, the scanning of every container bound for the United States “will no doubt lead to major logistics bottlenecks as the massive volume of shipped goods funnels through a limited number of scanning stations. This is a potential deal-breaker for perishable goods and just-in-time supply.” 72
Singapore has the world’s largest container shipping center. Singapore is the 13th largest source of U.S. imports and accounted for 13% of all U.S. imports of goods in 2007. Singapore’s Ports Command of the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority reported that in 2007 it was scanning about 15% of the 24 million cargo containers that pass through its ports each year. It is able to scan an incoming container truck in a few minutes, although the scan takes extra time to set up and interpret the results. Singapore signed on early to the Cargo Security Initiative of the United States and has been operating for several years as a pilot port. The Authority indicated its concern that the American side keeps announcing new initiatives (e.g., the Megaports Initiative and the Secure Freight Initiative) that seem to overlap and have different sponsoring agencies. With so many containers being handled, the port authority also is concerned that even adding a few seconds to the handling of each container would have cumulative effects on the efficiency of its operations. It views with dread the requirement for 100% container screening. 73
In April 2008, the Association of German Seaport Operators (Zentralverband der Deutschen Seehafenbetriebe, ZDS) sharply critiqued the 100% scanning requirement. ZDS argued that scanning 100% of United States bound container cargo would require tremendous financial outlays and time. The port of Hamburg, for example, ships 120,000 containers to the United
States per year. At a cost of 300 ($375) per container, additional outlays would reach
million ($45 million) per year not counting the 15 minutes per container for an assessment (and longer for the containers tagged for physical inspection).74 On the airfreight side, however, in
68 Caldwell, Stephen L., “Supply Chain Security, Challenges to Scanning 100 Percent of U.S.-Bound Cargo Containers.” Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, U.S. Senate, GAO Report GAO-08-533T, June 12, 2008.
69 Miller, John W.. “New Shipping Law Makes Big Waves In Foreign Ports,” Wall Street Journal, October 25, 2007. pg. B.1.
"Shanghai Port Grows as Trade Shrinks," CargoNews Asia, January 9, 2009. Interviews by the author with U.S. Consulate officials and business executives in Shanghai, China, February 2008.
72 The American chamber of Commerce, People's Republic of China, 2008 White Paper, American Business in China, 2008, pp. 105-106.
Briefing of author in Singapore by the Ports Authority, August 2007.
74 Zentralverband der Deutschen Seehafenbetriebe (German Seaport Operators), “Position Paper on House Resolution No. 1 (H.R. 1): Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 – 100% Container Scanning. April 6, 2008.