In an effort to further support homeland security, the Georgia Ports Authority would welcome foreign customs inspectors to be stationed at Georgia ports to inspect outgoing cargo, according to Diane Strickland, manager of communications and external affairs at the Ports Authority in Savannah.

          Ms. Strickland’s comments to GlobalFax were in response to a new U.S. Customs Service initiative to place customs officials at foreign ports to inspect cargo bound for the United States. U.S. ports are also to allow foreign inspectors to be stationed here.

          As of yet, no U.S. Customs Service agents from Georgia have been stationed overseas under the new initiative, nor have foreign inspectors arrived here. But the idea is a good one to ensure the safety of inbound and outbound cargo, said Ms. Strickland.

She added that foreign inspectors checking outbound cargo here should not delay shipping schedules since cargo usually arrives at Georgia ports several days before its scheduled departure.

          Cargo coming into Savannah hails mainly from Asia, the largest importer being China, but cargo is shipped here from all over the world, she noted.

          Several countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands and Singapore, have already agreed to post U.S. inspectors at their major seaports. Canada is the only country to have accepted the U.S. offer to send Canadian inspectors to U.S. ports.

Savannah is the seventh largest port in the U.S. in terms of cargo volume. It is also the second fastest growing port in the country, with 30 percent growth in containerized cargo during the past two years.

          Contact the Georgia Ports Authority at (912) 964-3880.