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Shipping containers stacked on docks in the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, California. - 


Scott Jagow: Congress has passed a law designed to stop terrorists from using container ships as part of an attack. But a report out of Europe this morning says that law is bad for the global trade business. From London, Stephen Beard reports.

Stephen Beard: Under the new law, every shipping container entering the U.S. -- and there are 20 million of them a year -- will be scanned at the port of departure. The image will be sent to the U.S. for checking.

Congress passed the measure out of concern that terrorists might use containers like a Trojan Horse. But a report by a French University out today says there's a downside. The measure, which comes into force in 2012, could delay shipments, hitting global growth without improving security.

Andrew Bounds of the Financial Times:

Andrew Bounds: Now is not the time, people say, when we have fears of protectionism, fears of slowdown, the credit crunch is biting, now is not the time to put more obstructions in the way of world trade and world growth.

Opponents of the measure also complain it shifts the cost of American security onto foreign ports. But supporters argue that everyone benefits from avoiding the damage to world trade that would follow a successful sea-borne terrorist attack.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.