The British International Freight Association (BIFA) – www.bifa.org – is pointing to two significant dates later this year that demonstrate to forwarders why acquiring Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status has never been more important.
The Union Customs Code (UCC) is being introduced across the European Union (EU) on May 1st 2016. There will be a number of changes to how goods cross EU borders and some transitional arrangements will operate until 2020. Two months later, new worldwide shipping rules to be introduced on July 1st 2016 mean that the weight of every container shipped must be verified using certified weighing equipment, or an approved calculation method.
Robert Keen, BIFA Director General, says: “It has long been BIFA’s belief that acquiring AEO status is about setting yourself apart from the competition. The process of become AEO certified itself gives a forwarder the chance to analyse processes, examine standards and identify corporate or organisational weaknesses. In turn, once issues have been resolved, AEO certification means that the freight forwarder’s clients have that certainly that their logistics partner has surpassed tight benchmarks in regards to standards of operation.
“This summer sees two days – May 1st and July 1st – that will be gamechangers for how the industry, especially in ocean trades, operates. Forwarders who are AEO certified or undertaking the certification will be ahead of the curve in dealing with the ‘new normal’ we all face.”
It’s not mandatory to become an AEO. However, for many authorisations and simplifications within the UCC a forwarder will need to meet some or all of the criteria for a Customs simplifications AEO certificate (AEOC).
Mr Keen adds: “Increasing numbers of shippers, especially multinational ones, are demanding that freight forwarders have AEO certification before they do business with them, never mind being given preferred supplier status.
“Given that the new regime under the UCC requires many of the authorisations and simplifications of AEO status, it has never made more sense to acquire that AEO certification.”
Mr Keen is convinced that becoming AEO-compliant will benefit all freight companies that supply Customs-related activities including importing, exporting, logistics, freight, most manufacturers and many other players.