NEW YORK — If terrorists smuggle a weapon of mass destruction into the U.S. through a shipping container, even if the bomb is defused, the collateral damage could wipe out the brand equity of the company whose container was used.

That’s one of the messages security experts are starting to hammer home to importers as the Customs Service labors to increase the security of the 11 million, 40-foot cargo containers that enter the U.S. each year. For months, companies have been signing up for the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, a program put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

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