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HomeNewsEast Africa: New Programme to Help Ease Customs Procedures in EAC

East Africa: New Programme to Help Ease Customs Procedures in EAC

Business Operators have been encouraged to participate in the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO), a World Customs Organization (WCO) programme that is being implemented in the East African Community (EAC).

Under the programme, the business community from different EAC Partner States can apply for the “AEO Status” which allows them to be handled as low risk companies that can be trusted by Customs.

This implies that Customs can deal with the consignments of such companies/business or individuals with less controls compared to non-AEO program members.

That way, the AEO programme is an instrument for growing compliance, according to officials.

AEO status bearers, irrespective of the EAC State they come from, go through the same set of criteria.

The programme aims to enhance efficiency in the face of increasing volumes of trade and the increasing vulnerability of the international trade supply chain to security threats as well as the use of the international trade supply chain as a conduit for high security risk materials.

It tackles challenges by shifting the perspective, so that instead of focusing on the goods themselves, Customs focus on the traders.

Speaking to The New Times, Yvonne Gatera, the Assistant Commissioner for Customs Operations Support at Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) described the AEO as “a program that facilitates legitimate trade in the EAC.”

She highlighted its benefits for the operators during the clearing process.

For instance, she noted that it allows importers, exporters and manufacturers to expedite the processing of entries and declarations, enjoy automatic passing of declaration, and no physical examination of goods – except for random or risk-based interventions.

It also permits them an Electronic Cargo Tracking System requirement waiver where applicable, expedites payments of their refund claims, reduces Customs security (Customs Bond Guarantee) where applicable, and gives them priority to participate in Customs initiatives.

For Customs Agents or Freight Forwarders, the AEO guarantees renewal of Customs agent’s licenses, gives them opportunity to participate in Customs initiatives, offers them priority treatment in the cargo clearance chain, as well as granting them a waiver of movement bond requirements.

Transporters also enjoy several benefits from the program, including guaranteed renewal of their transit goods licenses and any other licenses issued by Customs.