“To be, or not be – that is the question”, was Prince Hamlet wondering already some 412 years ago. 400 years later, the CBRA research team started to raise the question of “AEO benefits, or no AEO benefits – that is the ?”…
Around year 2004, we first started to study the emerging AEO-types of programs in Europe and globally, working intensively with multinational companies (clothing, cigarettes, machinery etc.), and with multiple governments. Initially, we reviewed any data available from C-TPAT, StairSec, BASC and TAPA programs, and later we concentrated on EU AEO and all other AEO programs across the globe. After 12 years of research our intention is to publish an academic journal paper summarizing all the knowledge from the literature as well as from our own research on AEO benefits for Customs administrations and for supply chain companies – focusing on the tangible, realized benefits, instead of “paper tiger / lip service” types of benefit checklists.
As the last step of data collection, we are now launching the study: “Customs Supply Chain Security Programs (AEO, C-TPAT etc.) – Survey on Supply Chain and Government Benefits – WCO 3rd Global AEO Conference, Cancun, Mexico, 11-13 May 2016 – Research project by CBRA, ZLC, UCR, HEC UNIL and FP7-CORE”. This survey is a direct follow-up with the one CBRA did in the 2nd Global AEO Conference in Madrid two years ago. Ms. Susana Wong Chan from the University of Costa Rica and Cross-border Research Association is presenting the survey in Cancun next week, and collecting as many replies as possible, in person during the conference (and by email after).
We have three main questions in the Cancun AEO survey, each one with multiple sub-questions (all questions are presented with a five-point Likert scale, plus one option for “cannot say”):
- Question for Customs administrations, supply chain companies, and all other experts in cross-border supply chains and Customs supply chain security programs: How often are the supply chain security program certified companies in your country benefiting from the following Customs granted incentives?
- Question for Customs administrations only: What are the benefits for the Customs administration in your country arising from the supply chain security program?
- Question for supply chain companies only: What are the additional benefits for the supply chain companies in your country, arising from the supply chain security program participations / certifications?
The full list of questions and sub-questions is shared at the end of this blog. In addition, you can download the questionnaire in word-format, in English and in Spanish, at: https://www.cross-border.org/downloads/
Why don’t (near) perfect AEO benefit -papers exist yet in the literature? One would think that the topic attracts lots of academics to carry out such research, and to publish their exciting findings, rather sooner than later… Well, it is quite challenging topic to study: where is the objective, non-biased data located, and how do you get access to it? How to deal with all the politics linked to the topic, as maybe many countries would like to be perceived as “leading edge AEO program holders, with a set of fantastic, innovative benefits delivered to the trade and logistics…”? How to differentiate between all the AEO marketing materials and incentive promises from what is actually implemented on the ground, for the real benefit of supply chain companies; and so forth..? To expand on these thoughts, one could revisit our article on the WCO News No 74 of June 2014. The table on page 45 includes a row on challenges and peculiarities with different categories of possible AEO benefits, sharing following observations and notes:
- As some of the Customs granted benefits existed in many countries before the AEO era, companies which have enjoyed “such pre-AEO benefits” may fear a potential reduction in existing trade facilitation measures – instead of the introduction of truly new benefits.
- Due to the dynamics in the cross-border flow of goods, outcomes might vary considerably over time – ‘seeing is believing’; in particular, the benefits linked to ‘elevated threat’ and ‘post-incident recovery’, may appear quite theoretical until such situations actually emerge (and the benefits materialize – or, not).
- Some could also consider that the AEO system may become a technical trade barrier – the ´become an AEO or die´ scenario.
- Some might think that an AEO program deters crime, as criminals would rather choose an easy target (i.e. a non-AEO target), for example in the case of warehouse theft; and, alternatively, other might think that an AEO program attracts criminals, as they know there are likely to be fewer Customs interventions – the smuggling of narcotics, for example.
Dear CBRA Blog reader: although this is very challenging research topic, and one should not dream of reaching “one ultimate truth out there” – we kindly ask that if you are in Cancun 11-13 May for the 3rd Global AEO Conference, please take 10 minutes to reply the questionnaire..! Next to the good vibrations gained from participation in this highly important study, you will join a lucky drawing of a nice Costa Rican souvenir! In Lausanne, 9 May 2016, Juha Hintsa.
PS. List of benefit survey questions, for the CBRA Blog readers:
Customs Supply Chain Security Programs (AEO, C-TPAT etc.) – Survey on Supply Chain and Government Benefits – WCO 3rd Global AEO Conference, Cancun, Mexico, 11-13 May 2016 – Research project by CBRA, ZLC, UCR, HEC UNIL and FP7-CORE
Question for Customs administrations, supply chain companies, and all other experts in cross-border supply chains and Customs supply chain security programs: How often are the supply chain security program (AEO, C-TPAT etc.) certified companies in your country benefiting from the following Customs granted incentives?
Use the following scale: Very frequently – Frequently – Occasionally – Rarely – Never / Not applicable in our country (or, this is nothing specific for certified companies) – Cannot say
- Are companies submitting entry/exit summary declarations with reduced data sets?
- Are companies benefiting from reduced number of data elements in their final declaration?
- Are companies benefiting from increased paperless processing of import/export shipments?
- Are companies offered the option of audit-based / account-based controls (versus only transaction-based controls)?
- Are companies having access to / pre-qualification with various simplified customs procedures?
- Are companies self-managing their bonded warehouses?
- Are companies benefiting from tax privileges, such as speedier tax refunds and compensation?
- Are companies benefiting from financial guarantee waivers, reductions or rebates?
- Are companies benefiting from reduction of any Customs fees or charges?
- Are companies benefiting from access to self-audit or reduced audit programs?
- Are companies allowed to conduct self-assessments when Customs automated systems are not functioning?
- Are companies benefiting from designated Customs contact points / assistance by Customs supply chain security experts?
- Are companies benefiting from training provided by Customs experts?
- Are companies enjoying easier access to other governmental certification in the supply chain, e.g. in aviation security?
- Are companies benefiting from the option to manage clearance formalities, inspections etc. at the business site?
- Are companies benefiting from a minimum number of cargo security inspections?
- Are companies being notified of the intention to release goods prior to their arrival? (“pre-clearance”)
- Are companies benefiting from “extended Customs office opening hours”, during high peak / congestion times?
- Are companies benefiting from choice of place of controls, if selected for control?
- Are companies benefiting from priority treatment of consignments if selected for control?
- Are companies benefiting from priority use of non-intrusive inspection techniques when examination is required?
- Are companies guaranteed a priority Customs processing during a period of elevated threat conditions?
- Are companies guaranteed preferential treatment at border crossings in post-disaster/post-attack situations?
- Are companies guaranteed a priority in exporting to affected countries after a security incident?
- Are companies benefiting from expedited processes to resolve post-entry or post-clearance inquiries?
- Are companies benefiting from priority response to requests for ruling from Customs?
- Are companies benefiting from privileges in any kind of non-criminal legal cases?
- Are companies enjoying tangible benefits due to mutual recognition agreements / arrangements (MRAs) with 3rd countries?
Question for Customs administrations only: What are the benefits for the Customs administration in your country arising from the supply chain security program (AEO, C-TPAT etc.)?
Use the following scale: Strongly Agree – Agree – Neither Agree nor Disagree – Disagree – Strongly Disagree – Cannot say
- Better overall allocation of governmental resources
- Improved indirect tax revenue collection
- Improved prevention of trafficking and illicit trade
- Improved detection and/or seizures in trafficking and illicit trade
- Improved prosecution to judgements -ratio (= higher percentage of successful prosecutions)
- Increased confiscations of criminal assets and/or proceeds of crime
- Improved collaboration with supply chain companies
- Improved collaboration with other national government agencies
- Improved international collaboration with Customs administrations in other countries
Question for supply chain companies only: What are the additional benefits for the supply chain companies in your country, arising from the supply chain security program participations / certifications (AEO, C-TPAT etc.)?
Use the following scale: Strongly Agree – Agree – Neither Agree nor Disagree – Disagree – Strongly Disagree – Cannot say
- Improved customer service
- Improved customs loyalty
- Increased market share/ gaining more new customers
- Improved security commitment of employees
- Improved company image and credibility
- Reduced overall vulnerability of the supply chain
- Improved supply chain resiliency
- Reduced cargo theft incidents
- Reduced tax fraud incidents
- Reduced illicit trade / trafficking incidents
- Reduced insurance fees
- Improved inventory management
- Fewer delayed cross-border shipments
- Reduced lead time variability in the cross-border supply chain
PPS. Related literature by the Cross-border Research Association team and key partners:
Most of these papers are available for download at ResearchGate, https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Juha_Hintsa/publications . And all of them can be naturally requested by email ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Hintsa, J., Mohanty, S., Rudzitis, N., Fossen, C. and Heijmann, F. (2014), “The role and value of customs administrations in minimization of socio-economic negative impacts related to illicit import flows in freight logistics systems- three preliminary cases in Europe – FP7-CORE”, Proceedings of the 9th WCO PICARD Conference, September 17-19, 2014, Puebla.
Hintsa, J. (2013), AEO – MRA Study for RTC- Thailand Europe Cooperation TEC-II, PDSC: Implementation of international standards on Supply Chain Security leading to a secure Trade Environment and to increased Trade Facilitation (Activity Code : TRA 4), Final Report, Bangkok.
Urciuoli, L. and Ekwall, D. (2012), “Possible impacts of supply chain security certifications on efficiency – a survey study about the possible impacts of AEO security certifications on supply chain efficiency”, Proceedings of Nofoma Conference, June 6-8, 2012, Naantali.
Hintsa, J., Männistö, T., Hameri, A.P., Thibedeau, C., Sahlstedt, J., Tsikolenko, V., Finger, M. and Granqvist, M. (2011), Customs Risk Management (CRiM): A Survey of 24 WCO Member Administrations, Study for World Customs Organization (WCO), February 28, 2011, Lausanne
Hintsa, J., Hameri, A.P., Männistö, T., Lazarescu, M., Ahokas, J. and Holmström, J. (2010), ”Conceptual model for measuring benefits of security in global supply chains”, Proceedings of the the 3rd International Conference on Transportation and Logistics (T-LOG), September 6-8, 2010, Fukuoka City.
Hintsa, J., Ahokas, J., Männistö, T. and Sahlstedt, J. (2010), “CEN supply chain security (SCS) feasibility study”, CEN/TC 379 Supply Chain Security, Final report, January 15, 2010