US customs officials inspect Cortés port

Thursday, May 26, 2005

A group of US customs officials visited Honduras' Cortés port to review its qualifications for entering the Container Security Initiative (CSI), an official from Honduras' national port company (ENPH) told BNamericas.

The officials from US customs and the Department of Homeland Security are inspecting the port's infrastructure, security system, equipment and customs procedures.

"We are quite sure our qualification will be near the maximum score," the official said, who asked not to be identified.

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Cortés port has invested US$7.5mn in improvement works in order to qualify for the CSI, including installation of an x-ray technology system to scan containers.

"It will be very positive if Cortés port qualifies, since the US customs approval would mean an improvement of our operations in container traffic with the US - mainly, containers could leave our port faster," the ENP official said.

With the approval, Cortés would also be the port that Central American countries would use to export to the US. Honduras would be the 38th country to be qualified under the CSI, an initiative launched by the US to identify and target containers that may pose a terrorist risk following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Inspectors can take from four months to two years to reach a decision regarding Cortés port qualification. US customs officials were not immediately available for comment when contacted by BNamericas.