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NZ Exports Face Security Wall In Terrorism Fight

27 July 2005

New Zealand Exports Face Major New Security Wall In The Fight Against Terrorism

New Zealand exporters to the United States alone are now facing an extra 87 systems to detect potential terrorist weapons in vehicles and cargo.

US Customs has also deployed nearly 11,000 radiation and radioisotope detectors and monitors.

All cargo, passengers, and high-risk imported food shipments, are being assessed with advanced information systems before they arrive in the US. There is also a new rule, requiring detailed descriptions of each container's contents 24 hours before it is loaded onto any US-bound vessel. That includes vessels which do not stop in the US, but pass through its territorial waters on the way to other markets.

So far 19 countries, including New Zealand, have committed to the United States' Container Security Initiative (CSI), with 37 ports identified as secure for export under the program.

The moves follow the creation of the United States' first single border control agency, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in a massive effort to screen annual imports worth US$1.41 trillion.

The tightening control over what goes into the US stretches back to the manufacturing, packaging, warehousing and container loading facilities of New Zealand companies.

Those taking part in new Secure Supply Partnerships with the New Zealand Customs Department are aiming for a smoother ride past the 18,000 customs, immigration and agricultural inspectors protecting the US amid heightening fears of terrorist bombings.

Top New Zealand exporters and New Zealand Customs are warning that failure to secure the export supply chain could result in major exporters – responsible for more than $31 billion in vital trade, facing "mayhem" delays in the event of a bomb going off in a single US-bound container – being shipped from anywhere in the world.

In New Zealand, Customs wants to sign secure export partnership agreements with 200 exporters, responsible for 80% of our trade, by June 30 2006. So far 78 firms have signed partnership agreements.

The latest, with its agreement taking effect this week, is leading exporter Gallagher Group, of Hamilton. The Group exports $50 million in animal management and security products – including electric fences to sophisticated access control systems, from its Hamilton base.

Gallagher Group has recently switched on its own PowerFence™ – an electric perimeter security fence system packing an 11kv electric shock for anyone trying to breach it – and Cardax access control systems at its 2093 sq metre container park and 2774 sq metre warehouse.

Like Customs' other secure export partners, all containers shipped out of the Gallagher Group site will now carry special seals, and they are less likely to be halted for inspection by Customs here (sometimes at the request of overseas customs authorities). They are also less likely to face X-ray and other Custom inspection fees than non-secure partners.

John Pihema, the national co-ordinator for Custom's Frontline programme, responsible for the secure partnership agreements, says he sometimes gets the feeling New Zealanders don't appreciate the terrorism risk to our trade "because we're so far away".

He says the encouragement to New Zealand exporters to secure their supply chain will pay off if the US ever goes to a higher security level.

"The US will be taking a harder look at what cargo they let in during these times, and we expect secure partners are more likely to get the green light."

Gallagher Group chief executive, Bill Gallagher, says there will be a massive trade log jam causing "absolute mayhem" if a single bomb goes "boom" on the way into the US.

The last time New Zealand experienced a customs-induced container-by-container inspection blockade came when France decided to inspect every New Zealand shipment – during the Rainbow Warrior bombing dispute in the 1980s.

Hundreds of millions in trade was held up within days.

"With the London bombings we may also see security on exports to Europe tightened. If that happens, those who've already done the work on securing export supply lines will reap another immediate benefit.

"We're so dependent on trade it would be wise for our major exporters to move now, rather than later," Mr Gallagher says. "However, there are some significant gaps in the secure export supply chain. Some major exporters are still gathering information and thinking about it. The recent wave of terrorism may prompt them to think even faster."

Another of New Zealand's most successful exporters, Fisher and Paykel, has also installed Gallagher security systems in a project managed by Cardax dealer and system integrator Advanced Security Group Limited.

Sensitive and no-go areas across the 12-hectare F&P site have been secured. Cardax limits access to authorised people only, and closed circuit television is confirming all containers have been viewed before leaving the company – under seal.

Advanced Security Group sales manager Charles Fraser says there's a major trend now for greater surveillance – and to share information between sites using sophisticated networks.

Gallagher Group logistics manager Brent Dawson, now working behind the newly erected PowerFence™ ("I'm not game enough to touch it"), says the Cardax system is controlling gates, personnel access – producing a record on everything and everyone coming in and out of the site.

"Wouldn't they (the authorities) just love the names of everyone involved in a container's shipment if ever there's a problem," he says.

ENDS

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