Business community demands Pakistan Customs to launch Authorized Economic Operator certification

KARACHI: The business community has demanded Pakistan Customs of launching Authorized Economic Operators (AEO) certification program, which will enable business and industrial units to become trustworthy member of international supply chain.

In view of its significance and importance, it is imperative that Pakistan Customs, being member of the World Customs Organizations, should immediately launch the AEO Certification program without further delays to rank among the countries having fully operational AEO program.

AEO certificate will enable the business and industrial entities to become the trustful member of international supply chains and to comply high security standards.

This was stated by Muhammad Jawed Bilwani, Focal Person, Authorized Economic Operators’ Stakeholders Group notified by Pakistan Customs & Chairman Pakistan Apparel Forum.

Exchanging views in the first meeting of Authorized Economic Operators’ Stakeholders Group held on Wednesday at the PHMA House Karachi, he articulated that Pakistan Custom is envisaging a robust taxpayers facilitation program in their supply chain according to International Standards.

Many countries have successfully introduced such programs under “Authorized Economic Operators (AEOs). Under the anticipated AEO program for Pakistan, eligible businesses will be recognized as credible clients and they will accrue various benefits, nationally and internationally, in accordance with their AEO status. AEO Stakeholders group will seek inputs and recommendations from the business and industrial community of Pakistan to successfully launch the AEO program from Pakistan.

In a presentation to the AEO Stakeholders’ Group, Saeed Akram, Collector (Customs) briefed that the Pakistan Customs is the member of World Customs Organization which comprise of 182 members divided into six regions and responsible for processing of 98 percent of the international trade.

The Customs role has been evolved and transformed from the Revenue Collection to Economic Development and Security with focus on Supply Chain.

One of the pillars of WCO’s Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate global trade (SAFE) which is a partnership / cooperation program between customs and trade aiming to secure and facilitate global supply chain security through Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs).

According to the World Customs Organization (WCO), an authorized economic operator (AEO) is a party involved in the international movement of goods in whatever function that has been approved by or on behalf of a national Customs administration as complying with WCO or equivalent supply chain security standards.

Authorized Economic Operators include inter alia manufacturers, importers, exporters, brokers, carriers, consolidators, intermediaries, ports, airports, terminal operators, integrated operators, warehouses and distributors.

AEO is a voluntary program wherein any economic actor in the international supply chain having dealing with the Customs can participate. Currently, AEO program is operational in 83 countries while under-developed in 18 countries which includes Pakistan.

To launch AEO program in Pakistan, the Government has introduced Section 212A of Customs Act, 1969 and also drafted Rules.

The ECC has also approved summary for introduction of AEO in Pakistan and timeframe for launch of AEO/MRA is communicated to WCO while discussions with Business Community initiated to Finalize Recommendations.

In another presentation, Sheeraz Ahmed, Additional Collector (Customs) highlighted that Comprehensive AEO Program has been conceived covering all sector directly dealing in international trade, mainly the exporters and importers.

Proposed Benefits on AEO Certifications are Speedy green channel and high level of facilitation in imports / export consignments, thereby ensuing shorter cargo release time – Priority Placement, Assessment & Examination and Scanning on priority by giving front line of treatment, Facility of Direct Port Delivery (DPD) and/ or Direct Port Entry(DPE): Facility of self -sealing of export goods, Facility of deferred payment of duty/taxes, Automated disbursal of drawback amount within 72 hours of the clearance of export GD, 50 percent reduction in the quantum of required Bank Guarantee,

Speedy completion of valuation, classification disputes/Investigations – issuance of special rulings, 24/7 clearances on request, if required, at all sea ports and airports, Single point of assistance to AEOs through designated relationship officer in relation to legitimate concerns, Access cards for hassle free entry to Custom Houses, terminals, off-dock terminals and dry ports.

Benefits under consideration are account-based processing rather than transaction-by-transaction clearance of accounts; Low documentary and data requirements; Choice of location for control/clearance of goods at the premises of the authorized economic operator or another place authorized by customs; Faster clearance at transit points and fewer checks en-route; Prior notification and treatment in case of selection for physical controls; Priority use of non-intrusive inspection techniques when examination is required; Reduction of applicable fees or charges for AEOs; Deferred payment of duties, taxes, fees, and charges or periodic payment of duties/taxes; Tax privileges to be granted by speedier processing of tax refunds, drawback, and other permissions/authorizations; Extended Customs services beyond normal working hours; Priority response to request for rulings from Customs authorities; Eligibility for self-audit or reduced audit programmes etc.

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