Customs & Border Protection Program vs. SAFE Framework of Standards.

In the United States of America the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) developed and implemented as voluntary supply chain security program called Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT). The European Union also developed a program based on the World Customs Organization SAFE Framework of Standards.

These two programs "accredited" qualifying companies as compliant and trustworthy, providing them with certain benefits when importing or exporting in the respective countries. Up until now, these programs have been country specific and never linked the two programs. In other words, a company with AEO status did not receive any beneficial treatment when exporting into the U.S. On the 4th May 2012, the CBP and AEO signed a Mutual Recognition Decision (MRD) with the European Union. The MRD with the EU and its 27 member states will be implemented in two phases. Phase 1 started in July 2012 and will incorporate the following:

"C-TPAT will start to recognise and accept the status of an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) company in the EU in its overall validation process. If a C-TPAT validation visit is necessary as part of your validation or revalidation process, no such visit will need to take place in order for your company to be in the "Certified/ Validated" status if that foreign facility is AEO certified. Less redundant validations and a faster validation process are two of the benefits under Mutual recognition. A further benefit is that it will be easier for your company to document to your C-TPAT Supply Chain Security Specialist (SCSS) that your business partners comply with the C-TPAT program's security criteria because these partners are AEO certified and the US recognises that foreign program as one compatible to C-TPAT by the fact that the US signed a MRA with that country.

There will be a period after July 2012 when C-TPAT validation visits to AEO members may occur from time to time; the reason for this is that some of these validations have already been scheduled by the C-TPAT SCSS and the C-TPAT partners. But as the MR Decision matures, redundant validations will be dramatically reduced or eliminated. Only from time to time will CBP conduct a C-TPAT validation visit on an AEO certified company in order to ensure that both programs remain compatible."

CBP will start to recognise AEO shipments as secured shipments in its internal risk management system. As a secured, trusted shipment, AEO shipments will receive a reduction in their risk scores in CBP's Automated Targeting System (ATS) whether or not that shipment is being imported by a C-TPAT importer member. ATS is a state of the art risk management system that CBP has had in operation for many years now; it does not recognise the EU's EORI number, but it does recognise a shipment's Manufacturing Identification Number or MID number. In order to be able to provide this benefit to AEO partners, CBP developed a secure web interface within the C-TPAT Portal so that it may collect the AEO members' MID numbers. Testing on this web interface continues successfully and it should go live by the end of July 2012. Once it goes live, EU AEO's will be allowed to input their data into the system. All 27 National Customs Administrations within the EU have sent instructions to all of their AEO partners as to what these partners need to do should they want their shipments to be recognised by CBP's targeting system. AEO partners, while recognised by C-TPAT as trusted partners, are not C-TPAT members; as such, they do not have C-TPAT account numbers or Status Verification Interface or SVI numbers."