EU Critical of U.S. Container Scanning

The European Union says the plan to scan overseas shipping traffic will disrupt trade without bringing added security

The European Union has spoken out strongly against US plans to scan overseas container traffic saying its risks disrupting trade without bringing the added security for which the move is intended.

EU customs commissioner Laszlo Kovacs on Thursday (2 August) said the US Congress' adoption of the law, which took place last week, would mean more costs for European exporters.

"Experts on both sides of the Atlantic have already considered this measure to be of no real benefit when it comes to improving security while it would disrupt trade and cost legitimate EU and US businesses a lot of time and money," said the commissioner.

"By introducing the US HR1 legislation, the United States transfers unilaterally and without coordination with its trading partners the resource burden for protecting the United States onto them," he continued in a statement.

Mr Kovacs also indicated that Brussels is looking into whether the new law violates World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules as European businesses may suffer more than their US counterparts.

The EU and the US are each other's biggest trading partners.

Suggesting an alternative solution to dealing with a possible security threat from container traffic, Mr Kovacs said "Instead of 100 per cent scanning, I advocate applying risk analysis for the selection of cargo containers to be checked prior to leaving the EU for the US.

"This would find a balance between legitimate trade facilitation and customs security, an approach that the European Union has always supported."

The US' container bill is part of a swathe legislation introduced after the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington in 2001.

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