Good afternoon Chairman Rogers, Ranking Member Jackson Lee, and members of the subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today about the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) international cooperation on transportation security, challenges we face, and areas for improved partnerships that will promote both security and commerce.
TSA recognizes the significance of the growth in the Asia Pacific region given that it is expected for the region’s share of global GDP to increase significantly over the next 30 years. This will likely result in significant increases in the transportation sector as people and goods move to, from and within the region. With industry projecting that Asia Pacific countries will account for roughly half of the world’s air traffic growth by 2030, TSA has made a concerted effort to engage with the major economies of the region, including China, Korea, and Japan.
The People’s Republic of China
China’s civil aviation sector has undergone significant development in the last two decades and continues on a fast-paced upward trajectory. Sustained economic growth and increasingly high tourism rates have driven the need for infrastructure development and capacity building in its aviation sector. With such expansion in the aviation sector, China is an important partner for TSA both on a bilateral basis and as a player in the transportation sector. TSA actively seeks new ways to engage with China and, in 2011, became a member of the Aviation Cooperation Program (ACP) which is a public-private partnership between the U.S. Government, the Chinese Government, U.S. industry, and the Chinese aviation industry.
In 2011, the ACP hosted the U.S.-China Aviation Summit to address areas of continued growth and partnership in aviation development between the two nations. Participants in the summit discussed airport development, air cargo infrastructure, airport and aircraft security, general aviation, air traffic management, airline operations and training opportunities. In promoting specific commercial opportunities for American businesses and expanding overall trade opportunities in China, TSA hopes to introduce U.S. security and safety technologies and operations that can improve immediate and long-term aviation interests globally.
TSA also hopes to work with its Chinese counterparts, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) on aviation security technology development and standards including collaboration on product capability, standards, quality control and maintenance in order to harmonize the capabilities and standards of Chinese manufactured aviation security equipment to complement screening technologies internationally. Chinese technology experts currently test and qualify U.S. manufactured equipment as part of the tendering process for equipment bids in China. In concert with these activities, TSA will continue testing aviation security equipment from Chinese companies to promote greater partnership in this area.
Going forward, TSA and its Chinese counterparts have agreed to exchange information and best practices regarding a number of aviation security programs including behavioral detection, supply chain security, and airport design. Additionally, both sides have committed to work toward harmonization in future multilateral forums. While the goal of “harmonization” is lofty, TSA will begin progress in this area by simply sharing positions in advance with CAAC and soliciting their comment/input for the upcoming International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly. To this end, Administrator Pistole recently met with CAAC counterparts in September 2011 and hopes to personally visit Beijing this year for an expanded conversation. Assistant Administrator Halinski also visited CAAC in Beijing in March 2012 and will return to China in May to participate in the China Civil Aviation Forum.
The Republic of Korea
As a result of rapid economic growth, high exports, and increased tourism, Korea’s aviation market has grown significantly. In May 2010, TSA and its Korean counterpart, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTM), signed a Terms of Reference establishing a formal bilateral cooperation group through which the two entities could pursue multiple work streams for consideration and possible action. Areas of particular mutual interest between the two countries include joint airport inspections and collaboration on policy and technology for screening of Liquids, Aerosols, and Gels (LAGs). The next Aviation Security Cooperation Group meeting is scheduled to take place in May 2012 in Seoul and will be attended by Assistant Administrator Halinski. Administrator Pistole met with his MLTM counterpart for bilateral discussions at an ICAO meeting in Malaysia during January 2012. In addition, Korea was the first Asia Pacific country to have purchased and deployed Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT). TSA assisted its Korean counterparts by providing resources and information regarding the technology and background information regarding U.S. studies on the equipment particularly in Automated Target Recognition for AIT and LAGs screening equipment. In addition to these activities, TSA has provided enhanced security measures on flights to Seoul during the lead-up to major international events including the G20 and Nuclear Security summit.
With its multiple international airports, eleven of which have last point of departure (LPD) service to the U.S., Japan is considered a regional transportation hub and is a strong aviation security leader in international and multilateral fora. Following the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent Fukushima nuclear incident, Japan has focused its efforts inward on recovery and stabilization. Funding previously designated for aviation security infrastructure investments, particularly screening equipment such as AIT, has been reallocated to recovery efforts. While TSA had no direct role in disaster recovery, the incident highlighted the strong relationship shared with Japan, evident though constant communication and coordination.
TSA is coordinating efforts to re-engage with Japan on aviation security, particularly as a regional partner in enhancing baseline aviation security in other Asia-Pacific countries. Japan is active within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and regularly invites TSA subject matter experts to participate in the aviation security working group. Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau has also requested that TSA work on capacity building with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which conducts aviation security training and hosts training sessions for a wide spectrum of nations. TSA participated in JICA training in February 2010 and has been offered the opportunity to participate in extended training at the Yokohama facility in the future. TSA intends to harmonize capacity development efforts to maximize the value of both USG and Japanese efforts.
In addition to our bilateral relationships, TSA engages with international partners via multilateral fora, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), which supports sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the region with the collaboration of 21 economies. APEC also works to advance transportation security through the APEC Counter-terrorism Task Force (CTTF) and the Transportation Working Group (TPTWG). Through key projects and proposals, TSA seeks to advance information sharing, capacity building, and public awareness in areas such as canine screening, cargo security, bus transportation anti-terrorism practices, and checkpoint optimization measures while encouraging economic development. APEC representatives from Japan, China, and Korea have engaged in these efforts by providing expert knowledge and feedback that help shape agendas to best address the needs of the participating economies while benefiting from the exchange of information and best practices on key transportation security issues.
From a global perspective, the most important multilateral forum with which TSA engages is ICAO, a subsidiary of the United Nations and aviation’s international governing body. As the U.S. Government’s representative to the ICAO Aviation Security Panel of Experts (AVSECP), TSA works with other international representatives to shape international aviation security standards on important issues such as cargo security and coordination of capacity development.
Strengthening International Cooperation
While transportation security varies from country to country, China, Korea, and Japan are leaders within the Asia Pacific region. All three countries are compliant with baseline ICAO requirements following routine TSA airport assessments and air carrier inspection and are considered to have a strong security posture by TSA’s international compliance branch.
A significant ICAO initiative to strengthen baseline aviation security is centered on promoting air cargo supply chain security practices amongst ICAO Member States. These efforts focus on defining high risk cargo and appropriate mitigation measures, known consignors, and regulated agent security standards. Regulated agent programs are a widely accepted baseline security measure implemented by many Member States, though there is significant room for growth to expand and strengthen these principles in the region.
TSA’s efforts are directly aligned with the National Strategy for Supply Chain Security and TSA’s risk-based security approach for the aviation sector. Developed in close coordination with industry stakeholders, these efforts coalesce in a consistent message from both the U.S. public and private sector and enhance both the security and facilitation of commerce. To this end, TSA works to recognize National Cargo Security Programs (NCSPs) around the world in order to further strengthen international air cargo arena security regimes. This effort allows operators to accept cargo screened and secured throughout the supply chain, decreases the re-screening requirements at last point of departure airports, limits backlogs, and facilitates commerce. TSA has been coordinating with Japan and is working with Korea to identify potential paths forward. We plan to engage China on a bilateral basis to evaluate their supply chain security systems, promote solutions which increase global security, and allow for the facilitation of international commerce.
TSA plans to continue strengthening supply chain security with China, Korea, and Japan. In addition to NCSP recognition, TSA will work to develop baseline technology standards and define high risk cargo and appropriate mitigation methods. TSA also hopes to leverage the strength of China, Korea, and Japan across the Asia Pacific region to harmonize training, capacity improvement, and outreach to developing countries. TSA will utilize multilateral fora such as APEC and ICAO, as well as bilateral engagement, to strengthen baseline international security standards while continuing to develop partnerships within the region.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss TSA’s cooperation with international partners on transportation security, challenges we face, and areas for improved relationships that will promote the free and secure flow of travelers and commerce.