- April 15, 2019
Customs administrations continue to adapt to an ever-changing environment of growing trade volumes, new trade business models, increasing need for security, and demand from consumers regarding speed, predictability, transparency, and cost reduction.
In the past two decades, Customs administrations have moved beyond their original role as the governments’ primary revenue collectors to play an important role in developing and implementing programs to secure international supply chains, encourage compliance, and facilitate trade.
To assist developing country Customs administrations with their evolving roles, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) commissioned a series of Customs modernization handbooks including the 2010 Customs Modernization Handbook: Authorized Economic Operator Programs, which provides Customs administrations with a practical, step-by-step guide to improving Customs performance, with a specific focus on Authorized Economic Operators (AEOs). Under an AEO program, Customs administrations certify companies as AEOs based on specified eligibility criteria and, once certified, provide these low-risk companies with benefits that can range across various time- and cost-saving measures. AEO programs also provide time and cost saving benefits to Customs administrations by enabling them to focus on higher-risk cargo shipments while clearing lower-risk shipments more quickly.
Since the publication of the 2010 Handbook, the number of AEO programs has increased considerably, and their focus has expanded from primarily security-related issues to a more comprehensive combination of security and trade facilitation capabilities. The additional effect is that the number of Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) has also increased significantly. In light of these developments, the USAID-funded Leadership in Financial Management II (LPFM II) project has published the 2018 Customs Modernization Handbook: How Authorized Economic Operators Have Evolved: Latest Development. This handbook expands the 2010 Handbook and provides more details about the AEO certification process, piloting AEO programs, coordinated border management, and the evolution of MRAs.