WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 -- The National Retail Federation today welcomed the signing of port security legislation by President Bush.
"This new law strikes a good balance between addressing security needs and ensuring that legitimate cargo can continue to flow freely through our ports without impeding commerce or the economy," NRF Vice President and International Trade Counsel Erik Autor said. "American retailers include some of the nation's largest shippers and strongly support security initiatives to safeguard our country from the introduction of dangerous weapons and persons while also protecting retailers' supply chains and brand names."
"A key part of this measure is a strong pilot program to build a more comprehensive system for scanning cargo containers rather than jumping immediately into a 100 percent scanning mandate for foreign ports that would have snarled retail supply chains and possibly increased security problems rather than minimizing risks," Autor said. "One hundred percent scanning is currently operationally infeasible, technically unreliable and would cause unacceptably high economic costs and disruptions to the economy while offering no real improvement to the nation's cargo security system. This pilot program will allow the reliability, effectiveness and safety of scanning technology to be thoroughly tested so that an appropriate scanning system can be established at the appropriate time."
Autor was among trade association executives and other supporters on hand as Bush signed H.R. 4954, the Security and Accountability For Every Port Act -- also known as the SAFE Port Act -- during a ceremony at the White House this morning. Among other provisions, the bill would establish a $400 million annual port security grant program, codify existing port security programs such as the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and require the Homeland Security Department to develop plans for resuming trade in the event of an attack on ports.