In June 2005, the World Customs Organisation (WCO) Council adopted the SAFE Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade that would act as a deterrent to international terrorism, secure revenue collections and promote trade facilitation internationally. The core concept of this international framework is the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) Programme.

An Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) is a party involved in the international movement of goods in whatever function that has been approved by, or on behalf of a national customs administration, so as to comply with WCO or equivalent supply chain security standards. AEOs may include manufacturers, importers, exporters, brokers, carriers, consolidators, intermediaries, ports, airports, terminal operators, integrated operators, warehouses, distributors and freight forwarders.

The AEO Programme is widely acknowledged as a key driver for a solid customs-business partnership, transparent and predictable trading environment. In a wider context it leads to economic prosperity.

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The South African Association of Freight Forwarders