Do you? SITPRO has found that many experienced traders are still uncertain whether to become an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO). They are finding it very difficult to make this major business decision based on a vision rather than clear evidence.
Yes: HMRC’s presentations have been positive that the (currently intangible) benefits will increase over time with the introduction of the various MASP projects. In the meantime, supporters argue that just being in the 'club' could offer commercial advantages in attracting future business opportunities. This could increase if and when mutual recognition is reached with other countries.
No: AEO status is not mandatory, but businesses who decide to appy will not only have to assign resources to completing the application, but they will also have to support an audit by HMRC - estimated to take between one and seven weeks depending on the complexity of the business. Meanwhile, benefits such as reductions to a trader's risk rating and reduced data requirements are medium to long term benefits and dependent on the successful implementation of pre-arrival and pre-departure declarations in 2009.
Maybe: Unsurprisingly, many traders will choose to wait and see how the benefits stack up. However, HMRC will be processing applications on a first come, first served basis. They are expecting 2,000 applications in 2008, but with 140,000 traders potentially applying to go through the lengthy application process, late adopters could be waiting a long time. In the meantime, if facilities were closed due to a breach of security, it is not unreasonable to assume that preference would be given to moving AEO consignments.
What will you decide? Have your say at www.sitpro.org.uk now.