National SAFE/AEO Workshop in Saudi Arabia

31 March 2015

At the invitation of the Saudi Arabia Customs, the WCO conducted a workshop on the preparation and implementation of the SAFE Framework of Standards (FoS) and an envisaged Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) programme in Saudi Arabia from 23 to 25 March 2015.

30 senior officials from various divisions of Saudi Customs including risk management, procedures, valuation, seaport and airport participated in the workshop. The level of participation reflected the importance and commitment that the Saudi Customs accords to this initiative. The quality of the discussions during the Workshop also highlighted the strong interest by participants in issues related to security and facilitation of the cross-border trade.

Based on the national situation in Saudi Customs, the WCO presented detailed information on the importance of supply chain security; the WCO SAFE Framework of Standards; Customs-Business partnership; AEO programme requirements, benefits; and successful case studies. The fundamental concepts of Trusted Person and Authorized Operator schemes contained in the RKC and the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) respectively were also explained to the participants.

Detailed discussions were held in the particular context of the preparations and launch of the Saudi Customs AEO programme and its requirements and benefits, primarily based on the standards and requirements of the SAFE FoS. Participants jointly elaborated several challenges and potential solutions e.g. inclusion of security criteria; involvement of other government agencies; identification of additional benefits for the private sector, as well as explored the possibility of a harmonized AEO programme for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Member States in future.

Key achievements of the workshop among others included enhanced understanding of the SAFE FoS, Customs’ role in the supply chain security, the value proposition of Customs-Business partnership, and AEO implementation process among participants. The Workshop was well received by participants, which has widened their perspective for further developing and aligning their programme with the SAFE FoS, before carrying a potential pilot.