Global Economy Seeks Stability Anti-Terrorism Efforts Will Slow Flow of Products

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Byline: S. A. Mawhorr Daily Herald Business Writer

A global economy depends on the free flow of goods, services and people overseas and across borders.

But since the attacks of Sept. 11, that kind of free exchange has been hampered by tightened security, fears for the safety of employees and costlier logistics.

With wartime-type security at American points of entry still in place, some businesses are concerned that protracted anti-terrorism efforts will complicate - and slow - the movement of goods that fuel the world economy.

"At this point, companies are reluctant to say much about this because they don't want to seem unpatriotic, but privately they are concerned," said Roger Majak, a former assistant U.S. commerce secretary under the Clinton administration.

"Ultimately it will affect their bottom lines," said Majak, an adviser at Open Harbor, which helps companies automate import- export procedures.

The cost could amount to one-half of 1 percent of U.S. gross domestic product - the total output of goods and services, estimates Peter Morici, a senior fellow at the Economic Strategy Institute in Washington, D.C. That would be about $51 billion per year.

"The world is slowing down," Morici said. "And the government seems to be instituting more and more (security) measures."

The U.S. Customs Service is now inspecting more goods than ever before. Cargo allowed on passenger flights is being subjected to closer scrutiny. The U.S. Coast Guard now requires ocean shippers to give detailed information about crew members - and not just the cargo.

"We are going a lot further today in examinations and inspections because of Alert Level One," Jim Michie, a Customs Service spokesman said. The Customs commissioner, Robert Bonner, says the highest level of security will remain into the "foreseeable future."

Some inspections "won't take very long at all, and some may go on for days, depending on the cargo," said Michie, adding that "our primary mission is to make sure people are safe and to protect our borders from any illegal traffic and traffic contributing to terrorism."

Individual economies have grown increasingly intertwined as companies seek to grow by seeking customers in an ever larger marketplace and technology has allowed them to connect with customers, partners and employees more easily, said Paul Laudicina, vice president at A. …