The government of Pakistan has taken several initiatives to improve trade and business environment in the country and the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) Program is one of the many steps towards achieving the objective.
For the purpose of launching AEO program and in order to provide its legal underpinnings, Section 212A was inserted in the Customs Act, 1969 through the Finance Act, 2018. Federal Board of Revenue has also issued AEO rules vide SRO 798 (I) /2020 dated 28.08.2020.
FBR has also constituted AEO Approval Committee in this regard which is finalizing the request of applicants. Software for business process and WeBOC modules for the AEO program has already been developed and is ready for launch at present.
FBR intends to start a Pilot project of the AEO program at MCC Port Qasim (Exports) Karachi in October, 2020, which will be later on extended to the import sector as well.
The World Customs Organization’s (WCO) Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) Program is one of the pillars of WCO’s Framework of Standards to secure and facilitate trade (SAFE). The Program is widely acknowledged as a key driver for a solid customs-business partnership; secure, transparent and predictable trading environment; and in a wider context of economic growth. Accredited AEOs can enjoy several trade facilitation benefits including expedited processing and release of shipments, mutual recognition of AEO status by customs administrations, financial guarantee waivers, and self-assessment.
AEOs include inter alia manufacturers, importers, brokers, carriers, consolidators, intermediaries, exporters, ports, airports, terminal operators, integrated operators, warehouses and distributors.
The government of Pakistan has a Category ‘C’ commitment to providing additional trade facilitation measures related to import, export or transit formalities and procedures, to authorized operators. Pakistan currently ranked 108 out of 190 economies, based on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business score, making it a less attractive country for potential investors.