U.S. import-export managers need to get used to yet another acronym: AEO, for Authorized Economic Operator. The AEO system is, in turn, the key element of CSP, the European Union (EU) Customs Security Program, which is the equivalent of the CBP Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program aimed at promoting global supply-chain security. The United States and EU have been working to achieve mutual recognition between CSP and C-TPAT.
Under the AEO system, "reliable traders," established in the EU, may voluntarily apply for AEO status--just as C-TPAT is a voluntary program. And the payoff, as with C-TPAT in the U.S., is that AEO companies receive trade facilitation, or "green lane" benefits, for their imports into the EU. Therefore, for U.S. trade pros, shipping to EU partners that have achieved AEO status will become an important competitive advantage. The U.K.'s customs agency (HM Revenue and Customs) began accepting applications for AEO status in July 2007 with a target date for the system to be operational as of Jan. 1, 2008. Other EU members are not far behind.
As of now, an importer must be established in the EU to apply for AEO status--and such status will only be applicable to imports into or exports from the EU.
All World Customs Organization (WCO) member nations have committed themselves to adopting some version of an AEO system at some point in the future. The ultimate goal is a WCO-facilitated network of nations that mutually recognize each others' trade facilitation and supply-chain security programs. The United States and New Zealand are close to achieving a mutual recognition agreement for C-TPAT and New Zealand's Secure Export System.
Managing Imports and Exports, http://www.ioma.com
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