In 2016 as a part of the trade facilitation measure, Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) had notified1 a revised Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) programme. The revised programme merged erstwhile Accredited Client programme and AEO programme.
With the objective of aligning the AEO programme with the changes notified in the mid-term review of Foreign Trade Policy 2015-20 and maximise the outreach, CBEC vide Circular No. 3/2018-Cus dated 17 January 2018 (the Circular) has notified certain amendments in the AEO programme guidelines.
The key modifications notified by the Circular is outlined below.
- AEO status holders eligible to seek advance authorisation on self-declaration and ratification basis for manufacture of export products where Standard Input Output Norms or Adhoc norms are not notified or the exporter seeks to use additional inputs in the manufacturing process.
- As a step towards decentralisation and maximising outreach, the application now needs to be filed with the office of jurisdictional Chief Commissioner, Customs with a copy to AEO programme Manager, Directorate of International Customs or directly to AEO programme Manager, Directorate of International Customs. Earlier, the application was to be filed with the Additional Director General, Directorate General of Performance Management.
- For confirmation on legal compliance by the relevant authorities, the details of applicant will be displayed on CBEC website. The authorities can respond on legal compliances to concerned AEO office within 14 days of uploading of information.
- Applicant seeking Tier 1 and Tier 2 status can submit solvency certificate from a statutory auditor or from an independent reputed chartered accountant on the basis of audited balance sheets. However, applicant seeking Tier 3, Logistics Operator Status including applicants seeking renewal of Tier 2 status needs to furnish solvency certificate from the Statutory Auditor.
- Validity of AEO status for Tier 1 stands revised from 2 years to 3 years.
- Jurisdictional AEO cell to nominate a Client Relationship Manager (CRM) not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner/ Deputy Commissioner for all AEO entities in their jurisdiction. Earlier facility of CRM was extended to AEO Tier 2 and 3.
With approximately 400 plus AEO status holders since 2016, it is one of the key initiative vis-à-vis trade facilitation. The decentralisation of the AEO application process and procedural relaxation including apparent extension of CRM to all AEO status holders will hopefully see further expansion in the status holders with the trade looking for supply chain efficiency.
1 CBEC Circular No. 33/2016 dated 22 July 2016
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