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AAEI's 89th Annual Conference in New York

On 5 June 2010 Prof. Wolffgang participated in the AAEI’s 89th Annual Conference & Expo in the Hilton New York in NYC. The American Association of Exporters and Importers was established in 1921 and is the premier trade organization representing those immediately engaged in and directly impacted by developments pertaining to international trade. The meeting, which had about 500 participants, was bearing the title “Forgoing the Path through Advocacy, Education& Tradefacilitation- AAEI Leading the Way for Global Trade and Economic Recovery”. Prof. Wolffgang contributed to the success of the meeting, holding a speech about “The Changing Definition of the AEO: Moving beyond Security”.

In his speech, Prof. Wolffgang explained the increasing importance of the EU’s AEO, which moves far beyond security and includes many aspects of import and export compliance.
In the EU, there exist three types of AEO certifications: The AEO- Customs Simplifications: AEO- C, the AEO- Security and Safety: AEO- S and the AEO- Customs Simplifications / Security and Safety: AEO-F. Prof. Wolffgang illustrated that the AEO forms part of the European Union’s Customs Security Programme, which was launched in 2005 and covers activities supporting the development and implementation of measures enhancing security through improved customs controls. Unlike the C-TPAT (the program of the CPB), the program also includes compliance based controls.

Prof. Wolffgang emphasized that the vast majority of AEO authorizations comprise the aspect of compliance (AEO-C). 2500 out of 2600 AEC- authorizations were either AEO-C or AEO-F. To businesspeople, compliance is more important than security, since customs simplification has very important effect on efficient trade. The benefits of the AEO-C are easier admittance to customs simplification, fewer physical and document-based controls and priority treatment. Only 100 authorizations were related to security (AEO-S).
Despite the statistics, security aspects become more and more relevant to European economic operators, even though the effect is depending on the progress of mutual recognition of security programs. In addition, mutual recognition of other security programs is one of the overall objectives of the EU.

Mutual recognition Arrangements are only based on security and do not address customs compliance issues.  The EU has already signed an agreement of mutual recognition with Switzerland and Norway. Talks with US, Japan and other countries are going on.
Since Prof. Wolffgang held his speech in NYC, the mutual recognition of the EU’s AEO and the C-TPAT program were of interest. Right now, compatibility between C-TPAT and AEO is not yet given. C-TPAT focuses only on security measures and compliance is not yet a part of it. Furthermore C-TPAT does not have outbound security components according to Prof. Wolffgang. These aspects need to be addressed before the EU is able to grant US C-TPAT members some form of MRA.

To sum up one can say that the EU customs approach is focused on both, control standards and trade facilitation. The main task of customs nowadays in developed countries is the protection of citizens and their interests while facilitating legitimate trade. Even though trade facilitation and compliance plays a more important for businesspeople, the EU tries to enhance the role of security aspects by signing MRA with other trade partners.

More information at the AAEI homepage: here

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