Crown Agents has demonstrated its commitment to international trade best practice by completing the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) training module, as approved by HM Revenue & Customs.
Customs and trade facilitation consultant staff from across the organisation completed the Edexcel BTEC accredited training earlier in the year. The training module focuses on supply chain security from the perspective of the trader and logistics service provider and what is required of them to meet the rigorous auditing and internal due diligence demands of the AEO certification process. However, an additional training component was also included specifically to cover assurances on customs compliance issues. This ensured the course encompassed all three levels of accreditation currently available to the private sector under the European Union's AEO scheme which are; 'Safety and Security', 'Customs Simplification' and 'Full' (a combination of the safety and customs simplification accreditation.
"Crown Agents recognises the growing importance of AEO development as a key enabler of secure and more efficient trade in the 21st Century. As such, we are delighted to have completed the AEO training and we see the academic accreditation as an essential further valuable asset to our professional capacity. These new skills allow us to broaden our ability to deliver quality technical assistance based on contemporary international best practices and to answer the needs of Customs administrations in building their institutional capacity in establishing an effective national AEO scheme", said Phil Norley, an advisor in Customs and Trade Facilitation at Crown Agents.
The AEO scheme came into force across all 27 member states of the European Union on 1st January 2008 following the security amendment to the CCC (Community Customs Code) under Council Regulation 648/2005. As of early April 2012, the member states' customs had issued around 10,500 AEO certificates to private sector entities, a certification which is mutually recognised across the whole European Union.
The EU's AEO is based on, and is compatible with, the World Customs Organisation's SAFE Framework of Standards, which is now increasingly being implemented by customs authorities across the globe. The AEO, or 'Trusted Trader' schemes, represents a cementing of the important partnership between customs administrations and the private sector involved in international trade. This is seen as being an essential feature in ensuring both an efficient as well as secure supply chain in the face of the ever present threat of from globalised terrorism and organised cross border criminality.
For individual traders, being able to meet the requirements to attain AEO status can also provide a 'kite'-mark' of assurance of quality service and good corporate governance, as well as enabling businesses to benefit tangibly from simplifications in the customs clearance process and fast-tracking of consignments through customs controls. For example, if a consignment from an AEO accredited company is selected for customs examination, this will receive priority over non-AEOs. Certified traders are also entitled to omit certain data sets from standard cargo clearance documents.
A significant recent advancement in AEO mutual recognition came with the announcement at the beginning of May 2012 that the United States and the European Commission had signed an agreement on mutual recognition. The United States was the first country in the world to implement a trusted trader scheme, called C-TPAT in November 2001 as a supply chain security measure following the terrorist attacks on 11th September of that year. Given the strategic importance of trade between the US and EU, which in 2011 accounted for almost 500 billion euros (source: HMRC), mutual AEO recognition (expected to become fully operational in January 2013) will potentially be of significant benefit to the logistical and supply chain operations of many importers and exporters on both sides of the Atlantic. According to the WCO, as of June 2012, 19 MRAs have been concluded and 11 AEO MRA negotiations are currently on-going.