AEO is a concept under the World Customs Organization (WCO) SAFE Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade (SAFE Framework). It represents a Customs-to-Business partnership to enhance international supply chain security and facilitate movement of legitimate goods.
At present, majority of the WCO members have expressed their intentions to implement the SAFE Framework. Besides, most principal trading partners of Hong Kong have fully launched their AEO programmes in recent years.
The Hong Kong AEO Programme, with its successful pilot run since 2010, is administered by the Customs and Excise Department under an open and voluntary certification regime. Under the Programme, local companies of different sizes which have met pre-determined security standards will be accredited as AEOs, and enjoy appropriate Customs facilitation. This partnership programme is open to all stakeholders such as manufacturers, importers, exporters, freight forwarders, warehouse operators, carriers, etc. involved in the international supply chain. No accreditation fee will be charged.
A company which has been accredited as an AEO under the Programme will be recognized as a trusted partner of the Department to jointly secure the global supply chain. The company will enjoy appropriate incentives including reduced or prioritized Customs inspection.
With a fully fledged AEO programme in place, the Department will explore opportunities for developing mutual recognition arrangements (MRAs) with other Customs administrations. MRAs will further enhance the competitiveness of AEOs in Hong Kong with diversified benefits granted by overseas countries. All these manifest Hong Kong's devotion to securing global supply chain and help strengthen its competitive edge as a major international trading centre and regional logistics hub.