Cablegate: Wanting to Be Cooperative, Thailand Concerned About

DE RUEHBK #2544/01 2781008
P 051008Z OCT 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

SUBJECT: Wanting to be Cooperative, Thailand Concerned about
Upcoming U.S. Requirement for 100 Percent Cargo Scanning


1. (SBU) SUMMARY and COMMENT: Concerned about potential obstacles
to Thai exports to the United States, the Thai MFA hosted a seminar
on the implications of U.S. regulations on maritime freight
security, specifically the requirement to scan all containers "100
percent" by July 2012 per the 9/11 Act. Although implementation
details of the Act remain in internal USG debate, USG officials
allayed fears that radiation detection, already operational at the
Port of Laem Chabang, is dangerous or a hindrance to trade, during
an MFA-sponsored conference September 21-23. Concerns remain,
however, about the slow pace of X-ray scanning and the potential to
create serious bottlenecks, especially if U.S.-bound containers need
be scanned at every port of call en route. END SUMMARY and


2. (SBU) The "Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission
Act of 2007" (Section 1701) (9/11 Act) indicates that by July 1,
2012, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will require
that 100 percent of containers bound for the United States must be
scanned by nonintrusive imaging equipment (X-ray) and radiation
detection equipment. The Royal Thai Government (RTG) has been a
willing participant in recent container security initiatives. The
Thai have already instituted the Container Security Initiative
(CSI), Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), and the
Megaports Initiative (MI). In recent months, the RTG has expressed
concern that the requirement of "100 percent" scanning could be a
serious impediment to port operation and trade, and that the RTG
would not be able to implement the initiative by July 2012

The 100 Percent Scanning Seminar

3. (U) On September 21-23, the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Department of American and South Pacific Affairs, (MFA) hosted a
seminar on the "U.S. Laws and Regulations Concerning the 100 Percent
Scanning of Containers to the U.S." The seminar consisted of
presentations and a question and answer period on the first day, and
tours of the Port of Laem Chabang (LCP) and the Port of Bangkok
(BKP) on the next two days respectively. Representatives from U.S.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the U.S. Department of
Energy (DOE), National Nuclear Security Administration attended the
seminar to present policy and technical perspectives on maritime
cargo security measures. Representatives from Royal Thai Customs
(RTC) and the Port Authority of Thailand (PAT) gave presentations
which provided background and discussed how their organizations
would be affected by 100 percent container scanning implementation.

4. (SBU) Mr. Apirath Veinravi, Acting Director General of the
Department of American and South Pacific Affairs, opened the
seminar, but the main speakers were USG officials. Mr. Daniel
Stajcar, Director of CSI, provided a thorough review and explanation
of CSI, the Secure Freight Initiative (SFI), and discussed the
differences between these programs and potential implications of the
implementation of a "100 percent" scanning requirement. He
explained that the 9/11 Act allowed the Secretary of DHS to delay
the start date of this requirement and would likely do so. Ms.
Katherine Crouch, DOE/NNSA Regional Manager for MI in South and
Southeast Asia, gave the context for understanding global trade
security measures, the necessity for protecting global commerce, and
how MI implements its nuclear detection mission with its partner
countries irrespective of the destination of the cargo. Dr. Charles
Massey, DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Senior Technical
Advisor to Megaports, made the final presentation of the morning and
discussed the "Practical Implications of Using Radiation Detection
Equipment at Laem Chabang Port."

5. (SBU) During the afternoon session, the following offices from
the RTG and organizations from Thai industry presented briefly: the
National Economic and Social Development Board, the Port Authority
of Thailand, the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Agriculture
and Cooperatives, the Thai National Shippers Council, the Thai
Federation on Logistics, the Thai National Freight Forwarders
Association, the Bangkok Shipowners and Agents Association, the
Board of Trade of Thailand, and the American Chamber of Commerce.
The speakers generally expressed concern about the "100 percent"
scanning requirement for reasons such as traffic congestion at the
port, operational and maintenance costs, readiness to comply with
the mandate, training of personnel, and rescanning of containers at
transshipment points or on entry to the U.S.

BANGKOK 00002544 002 OF 003

6. (SBU) On the second and third days of the seminar, RTC and PAT
officials presented background on their offices and offered their
perspective on the difficulties of implementing "100 percent"
scanning. They then led tours of Thailand's two principal ports in
the Bangkok area: LCP and BKP. LCP has operated radiation
detection equipment since March 2009, and both ports have X-ray
capability, although this is used primarily for imports. The tours
put the issues in context, both in terms of what the RTG is already
doing to comply with container security initiatives and what
physical and logistical difficulties the ports will face if they are
obliged to scan every container that passes through their ports
bound for the U.S.

7. (SBU) The audience of the seminar consisted largely of members
of the local business community, both Thai and American, as well as
interested members of the RTG from a variety of ministries. The
level of familiarity with freight legislation varied significantly,
from experts in the field to members of the business community who
had only a passing knowledge of these regulations. Very few of
those in attendance had seen the actual workings of the ports, and
this alone succeeded in clarifying some of the issues.


8. (SBU) Many of the questions posed to USG representatives were
based on basic misunderstandings about the different security
initiatives and about the realities of operating X-ray or radiation
detection equipment. The audience saw that MI's radiation portal
monitors (RPM) are not at all dangerous, and that trucks can pass
through them in a matter of seconds, with very little delay to port
traffic. RTC officials spoke positively and knowledgably about the
MI program, and by the end of the tours the audience expressed very
little concern that the Megaports Initiative was a safety risk or an
undue burden to the port. Audience members told us that the reality
of the RPMs was much different and much better than they had
previously believed, and that the benefit in security terms for
Thailand and international shipping obviously outweighed the
associated costs.

However Concerns Remain

9. (SBU) Two concerns raised by Thai representatives were more
serious and recurrent than the others at the seminar. The first
regards logistics. The port tours made clear that performing a
nonintrusive X-ray scan is much more difficult and costly than a
radiation scan. X-ray facilities at LCP, for example, have a
throughput rate of 4 containers per hour. The audience understood
that not only would LCP require many more X-ray machines, but that
they would require models which could perform the scan in the same
manner as the RPMs, i.e. as the trucks drive through them at a slow
speed, entering the port. With the models they have now, the driver
must leave his truck inside the scanner, while he exits and waits
outside. This style of X-ray machine will never be able to handle
the heavy traffic of a port like LCP.

10. (SBU) The second concern regards the possibility that a
container would be scanned multiple times before reaching its final
destination. Audience members inquired whether containers would be
scanned in transshipment, and asked if the USG could require that
containers only be scanned at their last stop before heading
directly to the U.S., or could be exempt from a second scan in
transshipment if the point of origin was in compliance with all
regulations. Similarly, audience members asked whether
fully-scanned containers would have a "green lane" at the point of
entry in the U.S. and be able to enter without delays or

11. (SBU) Several participants inquired whether the USG considered
Thailand a "high risk" country, and in the case that Thailand is not
high risk, whether its good standing as an ally of the U.S. can make
its shipping industry exempt from these future regulations.

Outlook for the Near Future

12. (SBU) Although participants expressed reservations and several
legitimate concerns, the mood of the seminar was not negative. RTG
officials and private sector representatives agreed that security
initiatives were valuable and that those in place already were not
intrusive. Representatives from the export and shipping industries

BANGKOK 00002544 003 OF 003

were divided on how to proceed. Some lamented the rising cost of
exporting to the U.S., while others said that Thailand would benefit
by being proactive and should develop their facilities before the
U.S. or any other country mandates security requirements. Port
officials told us privately that they are interested in installing
RPMs at the Port of Bangkok, and inquired whether the USG could
provide any of the necessary equipment for proper X-ray scanning as

13. (U) The MFA and the PAT closed the seminar and expressed
appreciation for USG attendance and participation. MFA
representatives indicated that this seminar is likely to be the
first of many engagements on this issue within Thailand and further
requests for U.S. representation are likely to be made to support a
clear understanding of U.S. security requirements. They reiterated
that their goal is to balance trade with security while negotiating
a path forward.


© Scoop Media

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