The Commonwealth will assist the East African Community (EAC) in implementing the authorised economic operator programme, which will offer easier customs clearance for exporters in the region.
During a meeting in Tanzania, senior officials of both organisations agreed to launch a new project to promote the authorised economic operator (AEO) programme in East Africa.
The programme is one of the pillars of the World Customs Organisation’s framework of standards to secure and facilitate trade. An AEO status is given to a business which has secure international supply chains and complies with customs controls and procedures. Businesses with AEO status enjoy simplified customs procedures, including reduced examination and prioritised clearance when they trade transnationally.
Speaking at the meeting, Flavia Busingye, the EAC Secretariat’s Director of Customs, applauded the Commonwealth’s efforts in promoting the AEO programme among freight forwarders, shippers and transporters of small and medium-sized enterprises in the region.
She said the project will enable the East African Community to reach its target of having 500 regional AEO status holders.
Through the project, the Commonwealth will build the capacity of private businesses. It will focus on challenges preventing businesses from applying for AEO status, mainstreaming AEO’s benefits and helping private businesses meet its basic qualification. The EAC Secretariat will focus on strengthening customs administration.
The Commonwealth’s head of trade competitiveness section, Sujeevan Perera, said: “This intervention will help to improve the trading environment in the region which will stimulate economic growth and employment.
"It will also improve supply chain security. This demonstrates the commitment of the Commonwealth to assist member countries in implementing the provisions of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.”
The project will be implemented in all six member states of the EAC, of which four are members of the Commonwealth: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.