SAFE/AEO Workshop for Asia Pacific Region held in India

13 January 2015

The WCO and the Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB) Asia Pacific, in cooperation with the National Academy of Customs & Excise (NACEN) India, conducted a regional workshop on the SAFE Framework of Standards (FoS) and Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) programmes in New Delhi from 5 to 9 January 2015. 42 middle ranking officials from 24 Member administrations of Asia Pacific region participated in the workshop that benefitted from financial support of the CCF Korea.

The workshop was inaugurated by Mr. Kaushal Srivastava, Chairperson, Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC), India. In his opening remarks, he emphasized the significance of Customs’ role in supply chain security and trade facilitation and encouraged participants to discuss and come up with collective ideas and solutions for an effective implementation of the SAFE FoS and AEO programmes, in order to develop a pool of respective trusted traders in the region.

The WCO and regional experts explained in details the importance of supply chain security; the WCO SAFE Framework of Standards; Customs-Business partnership approaches; AEO programme requirements, benefits, step by step phased implementation approach; regional and global perspectives of AEO implementation; and Mutual Recognition Arrangements/Agreements (MRA), their benefits and challenges. In the context of the following discussions, differences and similarities among the SAFE AEO programme, the Authorized Person (AP) under the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) and the Authorized Operator (AO) scheme under the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), were equally clarified.

Participants also made presentation on their respective AEO and/or compliance programmes and shared experiences and good practices. They identified several common issues/challenges relating to broadening and deepening AEO implementation in the region and their potential solutions by learning from each other’s experiences. Those identified issues could now be better addressed also in administrations' strategic plans and objectives.

Key achievements of the workshop among others included enhanced understanding of the SAFE FoS/AEO, significance of MRA, Customs’ role in the supply chain security,and the value proposition of Customs-Business partnership among participants. The workshop also helped participants to identify existing gaps within their current AEO/compliance programmes, in terms of further improvements and alignment with SAFE FoS, as well as to prepare for implementation of related TFA regulations (Art. 7.7).