Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has accredited a total of 28 business companies with the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) status which certifies them as complying with World Customs Organization (WCO) supply chain security standards.
Fifteen (15) of the companies have joined the AEO national program while thirteen (13) are now recognized at the regional level.
AEOs include manufacturers, importers, exporters, brokers, carriers, intermediaries, terminal operators, integrated operators, warehouses and distributors among others.
The World Customs Organization adopted AEO programs following the formulation of the WCO Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate global trade (SAFE) which allows customs administrations to work with trusted businesses to secure the international trade flow.
As a WCO member, Uganda acceded to the SAFE framework in March 2012 and currently has the highests mature AEO programs in Africa.
When a company involved in international trade acquires an AEO status, they benefit from EU simplifications and cut down on the costs of securities and guarantees to operate customs procedures.
To become an AEO, a company will have proven a clean record of compliance, a satisfactory system of managing commercial and transport records, financial solvency and appropriate security and safety standards.
The latest firms in Uganda to acquire the East African Community AEO status include; Movit Products, Victoria Motors Ltd, Jesa Farm Dairy, MultiLines International, Uganda Tea Corporation, Uganda Baati Ltd, Tororo Cement, Uganda Batteries and Uganda Fishnet among others.
Those that attained the national status include; Crest Foam Ltd, Airtel Uganda, Charms Uganda Ltd, Multiple Freight Solutions and Hariss International Ltd
While announcing the new AEOs on Tuesday, the URA Commissioner for Customs, Dickson Kateshumbwa said that the status was critical for sustainability of tax and customs security compliance in Uganda.
“This is an opportunity to mitigate any cost that may come along the journey. Whenever your goods reach any other jurisdiction, you will get priority treatment,” Kateshumbwa told representatives from the 15 Regional AEOs.
These companies were subjected to regional tests by the various EAC Commissioners of Customs and in effect, they get preferential mutual recognition by EAC revenue bodies to enjoy secure supply chains from origin (place of stuffing of the container) to destination (place of unpacking of the container).
Humphrey Asiimwe, the General Manager of MultiLines International, a Ugandan logistics company told SoftPower News that the AEO status is a significant stride both in terns of convenience in customs processes but also internal compliance discipline.
“The benefits of AEOs include manual and fast clearance of cargo (under 2 days). And it’s good for us and our clients because the importers now want agents that are Authorized Operators because then they will not get hustles with URA,” Asiimwe said.
“On the regional level, it means that the cargo will nolonger wait to get to Malaba for the AEO benefits to kick in. Now it means these benefits will kick in right from Mombasa,” he said.