Retail Leaders Applauds House Approval of SAFE Ports Act

May 5, 2006
Group glad to see mandatory container scanning requirement removed from SAFE Port act

ARLINGTON, Va. - The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) applauded the House of Representatives for approving the "Security and Accountability For Every (SAFE) Port Act" (H.R. 4954) by a vote of 421 to 2 today, aiming to further secure the maritime supply chain. RILA also praised Members of Congress for rejecting amendments that would have forced the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to use unproven technologies and untested procedures in the cargo container screening process.

"RILA members congratulate the House of Representatives for passing supply chain security legislation that builds upon the effective multi-layered risk based system the U.S. has developed over many years," said RILA Senior Vice President Paul Kelly. "The legislation enhances the existing partnerships between the government and the private sector, and between our government and our trading partners. We also commend the House for turning back efforts to amend the bill with provisions that would have essentially mandated the use of technologies whose time has not yet come, and forced the implementation of systems that contain a host of unresolved operational issues."

RILA pointed to a number of important provisions included in the SAFE Ports Act legislation. The legislation recognizes that better information is required in order to improve the ability of the current Automated Targeting System (ATS) to identify high-risk cargo before it is loaded on vessels abroad, which represents the best use of government resources and is a worthy goal of this and any legislation addressing cargo container security. In addition, the bill retains the voluntary nature of the Customs - Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), a program that is an essential component of the multi-layered approach to supply chain security. Finally, the SAFE Ports Act calls on DHS to develop clear protocols for establishing authority, determining next steps, disseminating decisions and ensuring coordination among public and private actors for the restoration of trade during an incident of national significance.

"RILA members are the largest group of users in the global maritime supply chain, and share the desire of all Americans to strengthen security across the supply chain," continued Kelly. "We are committed to helping the government further enhance security throughout the system. We strongly believe that security legislation such as the SAFE Ports Act, regulations and public- private partnerships can achieve the dual objectives of enhancing security while continuing to facilitate legitimate global commerce."

"Unfortunately, there is no 'silver bullet' for supply chain security. The SAFE Port Act legislation rightly outlines policies and goals and lets DHS find the smartest and most effective way to meet those goals," said Kelly. "The legislation allows DHS to retain the necessary flexibility to consider a variety of new technologies, undertake appropriate testing and determine which technologies have the greatest reliability before being adopted by the government and industry rather than being forced into deploying unproven 'gadgets.'"

"The legislation correctly seeks to continue to push our country's borders out so we can detect and investigate potentially hazardous shipments thousands of miles from our shore rather than after arrival in the U.S., which is why CBP receives and screens information about every U.S.-bound shipment prior to its being loaded at a foreign port," Kelly continued. "Government and industry can work together to increase the quality of the information that CBP routinely receives, while ensuring that proprietary information does not fall into the wrong hands."

"We look forward to working with Members of the Senate on passage of the GreenLane Maritime Cargo Security Act, the Senate counterpart," concluded Kelly. "We pledge to maintain an ongoing dialogue with Congress to ensure that legislation that improves supply chain security becomes law as soon as possible."

The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) is the trade association of the largest and fastest growing companies in the retail industry. Its members include more than 400 companies -- retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers -- which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales. RILA members operate more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers, have facilities in all 50 states, and provide millions of jobs domestically and worldwide.