Pakistan Customs to launch swift cargo clearance system

AEO programme will shorten average time taken to clear import, export consignments


​ Our Correspondent October 17, 2019
PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: Pakistan Customs is set to introduce the international Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) programme, which will shorten the average time taken to clear import and export consignments.

In a briefing at the Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PHMA) office on Wednesday, Customs authorities told the participants that the department was working on the draft of AEO certification, which would help speed up Customs processes.

AEO is an international certification which allows smooth movement of goods imported or exported by the certificate holder on a priority basis and the organisations possessing the certificate are trusted globally.

On the occasion, Customs Collector Saeed Akram said according to the World Customs Organisation (WCO), 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 complying with WCO or equivalent supply chain security standards.”

He added that AEO included manufacturers, importers, exporters, brokers, carriers, consolidators, intermediaries, ports, airports, terminal operators, integrated operators, warehouses and distributors. “The role of Customs department has evolved and transformed from revenue collection to economic development and security with focus on the supply chain,” he said.

Akram added that Pakistan Customs was a member of WCO which comprised 182 countries divided into six regions. “WCO is responsible for processing 98% of international trade,” he said.

Customs Additional Collector Sheeraz Ahmed stressed that the AEO certification was a speedy green channel for facilitating import/export consignments and ensured a shorter cargo release time.

He said the certification assisted in self-sealing of export goods and 24-hour clearance on request at all seaports and airports.

A comprehensive AEO programme had been conceived that would cover all sectors directly dealing in international trade, mainly the exporters and importers, he said.

“Benefits of the programme include account-based processing rather than transaction-by-transaction clearance of accounts and low documentation and data requirement,” he said. “Certificate holder also has the choice of location for control/clearance of goods at the premises of AEO,” he said.

The AEO programme is operational in 83 countries while it is under consideration in 18 countries which include Pakistan.

PHMA Central Chairman Jawed Bilwani urged the business and industrial community of Pakistan to take optimum benefits from the AEO programme.

“In view of its significance and importance, it is imperative that Pakistan Customs immediately launch the AEO certification programme without further delay,” he said. “It will enable business and industrial entities to become trusted members of international supply chains and to comply with high security standards.”

He pointed out that Pakistan Customs was envisaging a robust taxpayer facilitation programme according to international standards. Under the AEO programme, eligible businesses will be recognised as credible clients and various benefits, locally and internationally, will accrue in accordance with their AEO status.

The AEO stakeholders group will seek input and recommendations from the business and industrial community of Pakistan to successfully launch the programme in Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2019.

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