Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says the Authorise Economic Operator (AEO) programme introduced by World Customs Organisation (WCO) is aimed at enhancing international business supply chain security in member countries.
The NCS Public Relations Officer, Joseph Attah, said on Wednesday in Abuja that “AEO is a concept of customs to business supply chain security. It is aimed at facilitating legitimate trade in the country.”
According to him, AEO deals essentially with security in the movement of goods from the manufacturer to importers up to the factory in a fast track manner in such a way that security is guaranteed.
He explained that the programme would require traders to voluntarily meet a wide range of criteria and work in close cooperation with NCS authorities to ensure the common objective of supply chain security.
He added that “the WCO introduced AEO to encourage compliance and build trust, thereby reducing cost of doing business on the part of traders and government to facilitate legitimate trade and ultimately boosting economic development in the region.
“The compliant traders are given AEO status because they are low risk traders and can be trusted by customs by granting their releases with less control compared to non compliant traders.
“AEO is partly involved in the international movement of goods in whatever function that has been approved by or on behalf of a national customs administration.
“AEO will also involve manufacturers, importers, exporters, brokers, carriers, warehouses, distributors, freight forwarders among many.”
Attah said that a workshop was held in May on AEO, adding that the workshop was a major step toward implementing the AEO programme in Nigeria.
He said WCO sent two experts to NCS administration to train customs officers and shareholders on how to operate the concept, noting that Nigeria as the biggest market in Africa was yet to join the rest of the world in the implementation of the programme.
Attah said some modest economies like Uganda and Rwanda had the programme already working with the support of the WCO.
According to him, WCO is working with NCS to ensure that AEO programme takes off in Nigeria.
The customs PRO said the ease of doing business was a government policy introduced to reduce bottlenecks in the flow of trade, which was also in line with World Trade Organisation (WTO) trade facilitation.
He stressed the need for collaboration, partnership between customs, government agencies and the private sector to achieve the goals of the programme.
“This is one way to reduce emphasis on control, secure the supply chain, enhance compliance level and increase revenue and ultimately achieve enhanced economic development.
“Obviously there are challenges on our part toward achieving this goal, the main one being the issue of trust both on the side of government and the business community.
“However, the AEO programme is a strong tool for building trust.”