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Shipping agreement signed between EU and USA

May 7 - Officials from the EU and the U.S.A have signed an agreement to mutually recognize each other's certified trusted traders (known shippers), a decision that will go into effect on July 1.

These companies will enjoy lower costs, simplified procedures and greater predictability in their transatlantic activities, as a result of a mutual recognition decision, while ensuring the security standards of both countries are met.

Importantly, mutual recognition will also improve security on imports and exports, by enabling customs authorities to focus their attention on real risk areas.

According to the European Commission, there are nearly 5,000 companies in the European Union certified as Authorised Economic Operators.

"Today's agreement is a major step forward in the EU-U.S. trade relationship. At a time when businesses need all the support they can get, this will make life easier and cheaper for many transatlantic traders. It will also help to ensure that security checks on traded goods are more focused and effective, further improving the protection that customs provides for each and every citizen."

Under this agreement the EU and the U.S. will recognise each other's security certified operators. Authorised economic operators in the EU will receive benefits when exporting to the US market, and the EU will reciprocate for certified members of the US Customs-Trade Partnership against terrorism (C-TPAT).

Mutual recognition of trade partnership programs prevents the proliferation of incompatible standards, and promotes harmonisation of customs practices and procedures worldwide.

According to a press release, AEO status has been available for European companies since 2008. Switzerland, Norway and Japan already recognize AEO status, and European officials are pursuing a similar arrangement with their Chinese counterparts.

The EC and the Department of Homeland Security achieved preliminary work on the U.S.-EU agreement in November.

Mutual recognition of respective trade partnerships is a very important step towards improving the protection of citizens against terrorist attacks. At the same time, recognising each other as "reliable traders" will also lead to more effective container inspection and important cost saving for companies, in particular SMEs.

For more details on the EU AEO programme see:

http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/customs/policy_issues/customs_security/aeo/index_en.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/ecip/security_amendment/who_is_concerned/index_en.htm

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