|Wednesday, 21 July 2004|
Lanka, US sign MoU on Mega Ports Initiative
Sri Lanka and the US will sign an MoU on the Mega Ports Initiative to curb the illicit movement of radioactive and nuclear material worldwide and to prevent smugglers and terrorists from using the shipping network for their illegal activities.
Ports, Aviation and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera who is now on an official tour in Washington will sign the MoU on behalf of Sri Lanka while US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham will sign it on behalf of the US.
Director General Sri Lanka Customs and the US Deputy Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection signed the Declaration of Principles relating to the implementation of the Container Security Initiative (CSI) and Sri Lanka and the US have signed an Air Transport Agreement establishing an open skies policy to boost air transport links between the two countries. Sri Lanka will also participate in a bilateral airport security initiative with the US. With this necessary framework in place, collaboration in port security, airport security and civil aviation will be further enhanced.
Minister Samaraweera will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) concerning Cooperation to Prevent the Illicit Trafficking in Nuclear and Other Radioactive Material between the US Department of Energy and the Ministry of Ports and Aviation of Sri Lanka.
This MoU is part of the "MegaPorts" initiative of the US Department of Energy which seeks to curb the illicit movement of radioactive and nuclear material worldwide and to prevent nuclear smugglers and terrorists from using the shipping network for illicit purposes. US -Sri Lanka cooperation under this MoU will enhance security at the Colombo Port.
The Minister and the United States Secretary of Energy, Spencer Abraham will discuss issues related to the implementation of the MoU which is being signed within two weeks of initiating discussions between the two countries. Representatives from the Department of Energy's "MegaPorts" initiative will visit Colombo to discuss the program with Sri Lankan officials. The signing of this MoU marks yet another significant milestone in US-Sri Lanka bilateral relations and will further enhance the partnership in key areas.
Senior officials of the Department of Homeland Security will discuss with Minister Samaraweera port and aviation security matters. Minister Samaraweera will discuss the implementation of the Container Security Initiative (CSI). The CSI was established to increase the security of the world's maritime trading system through strengthening customs cooperation at seaports. Sri Lanka and the United States signed the Declaration of Principles for the US Container Security Initiative on June 25, 2003.
The CSI will help secure speedy clearance and movement of trade between Sri Lanka and the ports of the United States without undue delays in the process of container shipment. Preliminary work under way to prepare for the installation of non-intrusive inspectional equipment at the Colombo Port to scan targeted containers bound for US ports. This Initiative has been further supplemented by Sri Lanka's compliance with the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
Minister Samaraweera will discuss with the Director of the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) ways and means to move forward on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Government of Sri Lanka and the USTDA in November 2003.
The MoU enables USTDA funding in the area of aviation and communication technology. USTDA finances technical assistance, feasibility studies, orientation visits and business workshops, among others. During this meeting the Minister will specifically focus on USTDA assistance for airport development and air traffic management and other civil aviation issues. Preparatory work for the implementation of the CSI is funded by the USTDA.
During the visit, the Minister will also focus on matters of port and aviation security with the Transportation Security Administration of the US Department of Homeland Security.
Minister Samaraweera is attending the International Summit on Aviation Safety and Security at the invitation of the US Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta and the George Washington University Consortium of the George Washington University Aviation Institute. The Summit Program sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration of the US Department of Transportation with active assistance from the US Department of State and the Transportation Security Administration, is administered by the George Washington University Consortium.
The Summit will discuss ways and means of increasing cooperation on international aviation safety and security and in ensuring continuing compliance with ICAO Standards in those areas. The participants at Ministerial level will discuss the essential elements of civil aviation safety and security from a policy perspective.
Port and aviation security has emerged as a critical issue in the global war on terrorism and keeping the global trading system open. Sri Lanka as a trade dependent economy with over 70% of GDP generated by trade, relies on ports and airports to trade with the world. In particular, with US$1.8 billion of exports destined to the US as the largest trading partner, port and container security are vital for the competitiveness of Sri Lankan exports and employment generation. Promotion of Colombo as a transportation hub also requires increased levels of port and aviation security. Airport Security is also critical for the country's transportation, commercial and trading interests.
The visit of Minister Samaraweera is part of an ongoing process of high level consultations between Sri Lanka and the US on security issues related to securing Sri Lanka's trade and aviation interests to increase bilateral trade and investment.
The Minister of Ports and Aviation is accompanied by A. Hewage Secretary, Ministry of Ports and Aviation, M.K.A.M. Hizbullah, Chairman, Airport and Aviation (Sri Lanka) Ltd and H.M.C. Nimalasiri, Director-General, Civil Aviation Authority.
Courtesy: Sri lanka Embassy in Washington
Produced by Lake House