Antigua and Barbuda commits to implement an AEO programme

14 October 2019

Under the auspices of the WCO-UNCTAD HMRC Programme financed by UK Government, and as part of the Mercator Programme, the World Customs Organization (WCO) conducted a National AEO Technical Assistance mission from 7 to 10 October 2019 in St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Austin Greenaway, Deputy Comptroller of Customs & Excise Division of Antigua and Barbuda underlined the importance of partnerships between Customs, other government agencies and the private sector in order to effectively meeting collective goals of improved trade facilitation and economic competitiveness, whilst securing borders. He recognized that the implementation of an AEO programme in Antigua and Barbuda would help further enhancing supply chain security and facilitation.   

The WCO has been providing comprehensive support to Antigua and Barbuda under its Mercator Programme to assist with the implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA) through the use of various WCTO instruments and tools. This mission was aimed at assisting the Customs and Excise Division and relevant stakeholders with the development of an AEO programme, supporting the implementation of the relevant provisions of the SAFE Framework of Standards (FoS) and Articles 2 and 7.7 of the WTO TFA, in particular.

Based on the current national situation, the WCO expert presented various WCO instruments and tools relating to the SAFE FoS and AEO implementation, elaborated the concept of AEO programme, AEO criteria, requirements and benefits, and its synergies with Article 7.7 of the WTO TFA, and provided international, regional and national experiences and good practices for harmonized and standardized implementation.

Facilitated by the WCO expert, participants discussed the present state of play concerning stakeholders’ engagements, stakeholders’ segmentation based on their compliance, advance electronic data requirements, risk management, and IT implementation, along with prevailing laws, regulations and procedures.

Through practical exercises, case studies, global best practices and simulation scenarios, participants were guided through the AEO application, validation, implementation and post-validation processes. There was a detailed discussion on how to develop criteria, requirements and benefits, taking into account the specific needs and priorities of Antigua and Barbuda, being a small island economy with appropriate customization of international standards.

Over 40 participants from Customs, cross-border regulatory agencies (e.g., Agriculture, Health, Trade, and Port) and the private sector (e.g., importers, exporters, and Customs brokers) benefited from the workshop.

The participation of other government agencies had been found very useful in engaging them at this early stage and clarifying their concerns when developing a programme with additional benefits from those agencies, as well as identifying challenges for the implementation of this project in a timely and coordinated manner.

This mission led to improved professional knowledge of participants, required for developing and piloting an AEO programme by engaging relevant stakeholders.

The WCO also held a meeting with Mr. Raju Boddu, Comptroller of Customs & Excise and discussed strategies and potential ways for the implementation of the SAFE Framework of Standards and an AEO programme, as part their Customs reforms and modernization agenda. The Comptroller expressed his Administration’s commitment to implementing these initiatives and thanked the WCO for its ongoing support.

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