Cablegate: U.S. Customs at Halifax Port

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

272102Z Feb 03




E.O. 12958: N/A


2. SUMMARY: Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA)
officials in Halifax are pleased with the cooperation they
have enjoyed over the past year with the U.S. Customs
inspectors assigned to work at the Halifax port. Since U.S.
Customs began assigning inspectors to Halifax on a rotating
basis last March, CCRA has scrutinized nearly 500 U.S.-bound
marine shipping containers specifically at the request of
their U.S. colleagues, in addition to the 3,000-3,500
containers that CCRA normally inspects for its own reasons.
Local CCRA officials would welcome a permanent U.S. Customs
presence here. END SUMMARY.

3. On February 25, CG visited the customs facility where
two U.S. Customs inspectors are working with their Canadian
counterparts in identifying U.S.-bound marine shipping
containers that merit closer scrutiny and inspection. Both
the U.S. Customs personnel and the CCRA officials with whom
they work spoke highly of the collaboration that has evolved
since last March, when U.S. first sent two inspectors here.
The U.S. Customs inspectors commented that they receive full
cooperation from CCRAQs container targeting unit and have
never had a problem persuading CCRA to inspect a U.S.-bound
container at their request. The targeting unit is co-
located with the inspection facility.

4. Senior CCRA officials in Halifax have told CG that this
arrangement has worked out very well thus far. They noted
that it has been beneficial for both sides that the U.S.
Customs people have access to a different database and can
therefore make slightly different decisions about which
containers coming in to Halifax port might be suspicious.
They insisted that CCRA is happy to isolate and inspect any
container flagged by the U.S. inspectors and that there have
been no jurisdictional problems. Since the U.S. inspectors
arrived, CCRA has inspected almost 500 U.S.-bound shipping
containers at their request. The CCRA officials observed
that this statistic compares favorably with those at the
ports of Montreal and Vancouver, both of which have a higher
volume of U.S.-traffic. Halifax annually inspects a total
of over 3,000-3,500 containers that have come to the
attention of CCRA or other law-enforcement agencies for
various reasons.

5. Our local CCRA contacts believe it would be
advantageous if U.S. Customs decided to make its presence at
Halifax port permanent. They pointed out that each newly
assigned TDY inspector over the past year has had to spend
some time developing the necessary personal working
relationships with Canadian counterparts, as well as having
to undergo a certain learning curve with regard to CCRA
practices and procedures. Assigning U.S. Customs people
here on a more permanent basis would solve this problem.
Co-locating U.S. inspectors with the Canadian
targeting/inspection unit makes sense, they argued, and
might be even more feasible on a long-term basis once the
unit moves to a new, larger facility this spring.


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