APL’s Vice President, Security, Earl Agron made these remarks, at a session of the Business Advisory Committee of the Transportation Center at Northwestern University. APL is a global container transportation company.
Agron noted that to up the present physical inspection rate to 10% of inbound containers would call for between 6,000 and 7,000 additional customs officers. “A 10% physical exam rate would be extremely expensive and would cause unacceptable delays to the international supply chain,” he said. “That’s why we support the current system, which provides security with less expense and delay”
Currently, customs officers using sensing equipment externally examine some 5 to 6% of inbound containers. Of those, few require opening and searching. Shipping information for 100% of inbound containers is now reviewed by Customs. Agron made the point that it’s not how many boxes are physically inspected, but which boxes.
In case of a catastrophic act on a seaport, public and private sector collaboration will be needed in plans to re-start U.S. ports. “It’s important that everyone involved understand the expectations,” noted Agron, “including shippers, carriers, our trading partners and U.S. authorities. Otherwise, we risk prolonging a shutdown and magnifying the economic ripple effects of a terrorist act.”