International trade becomes increasingly secure

Miles Vartan Consultancy assists Port of Felixstowe to become UK’s first port to gain full ‘Authorised Economic Operator’ (AEOF) status

Port of Felixstowe AEOThere’s widespread acknowledgement within the UK supply chain community of the need to start preparations for 1st May 2016, when the Union Customs Code (UCC) comes into force. Alongside this is growing awareness of the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) certification process, its relevance to the Code – and its importance to all those involved in the international supply chain. The Port of Felixstowe has become the first UK port to gain Full Authorised Economic Operator (AEOF) status, a significant achievement, both for the Company and the Port Industry.

“The certification provides all stakeholders in the port with reassurance,” says Miles Vartan, whose consultancy supported the Port in achieving its AEOF status. “They’ll know that an intensive assessment process has been followed and that HMRC has checked a major part of the national logistical infrastructure against the security and safety criteria laid out in the regulations. The certification complements the Port’s ISPS status, further enhancing Felixstowe’s ability to securely process containers, trailers and all types of cargo in and out of the country.

“This is good news for British businesses since it prevents consignments from being delayed any longer than absolutely necessary during the checking and verifying of documentation. The benefits to port users, which include the reduction or elimination of financial guarantees for operating customs procedures, will become more and more obvious over the coming months as the UCC comes into force – with the text for this legislation having to be agreed by the 31st December 2014.”

Security Police Car at FelixstoweThe AEO initiative was introduced by the EU, partly in response to worldwide security issues and also as a key element of the Union Customs Code. Its objectives are aligned to those of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) under the banner of the SAFE Framework. Principally, they aim to ensure a safe and fast environment for the international movement of recognised, identified freight. Meanwhile “unknown” operators are targeted for additional checks and increased documentation requirements. This can of course cause significant delays.

“We’re delighted to have been of assistance in helping the Port of Felixstowe attain the internationally recognised standard,” says Vartan.

In addition to the work with the Port of Felixstowe, Vartan Consultancy has assisted fourteen other companies in securing AEO status, and is helping several other companies in preparing submissions. These range from liner agencies to freight forwarders and manufacturers. AEO applies to other areas including exporting, warehousing, customs agents, carriers and importers, where consignments enter and/or leave the EU.

“We worked with key port managers to compile a comprehensive set of procedures and work instructions in line with requirements from HMRC. Our philosophy is not to undertake work where we merely tick-boxes and gain a certificate,” adds Vartan emphatically. “We use every part of the process to help operators to improve their working practices and efficiency – and to reduce their risk. It’s all about using opportunities to add value.”