Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today announced a new partnership with the World Customs Organization (WCO) to enlist other nations, international bodies and the private sector in increasing the security of the global supply chain—outlining a series of new initiatives to make the system stronger, smarter and more resilient.

"Securing the global supply chain is part and parcel of securing both the lives of people around the world, and the stability of the global economy," said Secretary Napolitano. "The United States is committed to working with our international partners and the private sector to keep this powerful engine of commerce, jobs, and prosperity from being attacked or disrupted."

During remarks today to shipping and cargo stakeholders, security experts and government officials at the European Policy Centre, Secretary Napolitano discussed the three main elements of this international effort to strengthen the security of the global supply chain:

  • Preventing terrorists from exploiting the global supply chain to plan and execute attacks;
  • Protecting the most critical elements of the supply chain system, such as transportation hubs and related critical infrastructure, from attacks and disruptions; and
  • Building the resilience of the global supply chain to ensure that if something does happen, the supply chain can recover quickly.

WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya also spoke at today's event, emphasizing the important role his organization will play—in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—to build international consensus on strengthening cargo screening standards across the globe and deploying state-of-the-art technologies to better track and detect precursor chemicals. Prior to her remarks, Secretary Napolitano met with Secretary General Mikuriya to discuss and coordinate the continued collaboration between DHS and the WCO to secure the global supply chain.

"The recent air cargo incidents show the necessity for international cooperation in enhancing trade security using a risk management approach as embodied in the WCO SAFE Framework of Standards," said WCO Secretary General Mikuriya. "Therefore I appreciate Secretary Napolitano's efforts to address cargo security through the WCO and other international organizations," added Mikuriya.

Secretary Napolitano highlighted DHS' commitment to working with customs agencies and shipping companies from around the world to keep precursor chemicals that can be used to produce improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from being trafficked by terrorists.

Currently, through Project Global Shield—launched by DHS, the World Customs Organization, INTERPOL, and the UN Office of Drugs and Crime in 2010—60 nations are sharing information with each other to ensure that chemicals entering their countries are being used in safe and legal ways, leading to successful interdictions of a number of suspicious shipments, and providing promising investigative leads on the smuggling of precursor chemicals into Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Secretary Napolitano stated that, in 2011, DHS will work with our international partners to build on these successes, strengthening cargo screening standards across the globe; deploying state-of-the-art technologies to better track and detect precursors; and, in conjunction with the Departments of State and Defense, expanding and coordinating technical assistance and training to partner countries to ensure that well-developed, well-equipped customs agencies are able to do their jobs everywhere along the global supply chain.