Sri Lanka is to discuss trade-related security issues with the US government in December.

The talks will focus on improving security procedures for exports and transhipments from Sri Lanka's port of Colombo, into the US.

"The US concern is that terrorists may be able to access the US by routing cargo through Sri Lanka, or by re-exporting," said Secretary to the Ministry of Trade, Dr K Ratnayake.

The US is Sri Lanka's largest export destination, single handedly buying up nearly one-third (31%) of total export production. The biggest direct export into the US is readymade garments, which also account for a large share of transhipments.

To accommodate US security requirements, the port of Colombo has already undergone a massive security overhaul. 

Sri Lanka is the only country in the South Asian region to install the required scanning systems to become part of the US Container Security Initiative (CSI). CSI security measures can detect arms and weapons of mass destruction in export and transhipment cargo.

Under the Mega Port initiative, the port of Colombo was equipped to detect nuclear and radio-active material.

Sri Lanka Customs says the security upgrade is paying off with increased transhipments.

"In time to come the US government will not accept cargo that has not originated from a CSI port. The clearance procedures at the US-end are also much faster when the goods are from CSI ports," said L M Nelson, head of customs intelligence and CSI at the port of Colombo.

Eventually buyers from the US are expected to do most of their purchasing from CSI-geared countries.

Due to these trade implications China has already converted a number of ports to SCI standards and India has ear-marked the port of Bombay for CSI status.

By Dilshani Samaraweera.