At the end of 2022 the Customs Administration of Serbia together with the German Alliance for Trade Facilitation organised workshops on the topics of Authorised Economic Operators and Pre-Arrival Processing for Postal Consignments. The exchange brought valuable insights to take the next steps in the joint project.
A workshop organised jointly by the Customs Administration of Serbia and the German Alliance for Trade Facilitation took place in November 2022. For that occasion, the Customs Administration and the Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) business community came together. They discussed challenges in the current deployment of existing benefits. The companies had the chance to express their perspective on additional benefits such as deferred payment and simplified declaration scheme. The dialogue between customs and AEO companies was crucial for both parties to identify current challenges of the system and to brainstorm about possible solutions.
The AEO programme has been introduced in Serbia in 2014. In the last years, the programme membership has been growing constantly. 34 companies had successfully applied for the status in the beginning of the year 2022. Currently, 47 Serbian companies hold the AEO status, generating 50% of the total trade balance. The AEO certificate helps these companies to benefit from simplifications in the customs procedures, e.g. prior notification, fewer controls, and choice of place for physical inspection. Less red tape enables the businesses to be more efficient. Nevertheless, there are other incentives that could be offered to these companies. The Customs Administration of Serbia is currently planning to additionally deploy two benefits:
1) delayed deferred payments of customs duties and simplified declaration scheme
2) AEO fast lines on Border Crossing Points
During the upcoming months, the project team will assist the Customs Administration on how to design the AEO programme more appealing in order to be aligned with processes of the European Union (EU). To get practical insights into EU member states, a study tour has been set with Dutch Customs to discuss the operationalisation of the new benefits.
In December 2022 the project team organised a two-day workshop and brought together representatives from the Customs Administration and the Post of Serbia. They jointly discussed the implementation of Pre-Arrival Processing (PAP) for postal consignments. More than 30 participants talked about the procedure in general, the main challenges and how to mitigate them. The pandemic 2020 reshaped the e-commerce market. While people were staying at home in lockdowns, the most convenient way of purchasing groceries, clothes, gadgets etc. was through the internet. For the last three years Serbia experienced a steady growth of 30% per year in e-commerce. Most of the purchased goods come from EU countries. Since Serbia is not part of the EU yet, Serbian buyers need to pay custom duties and Value Added Tax (VAT)
for purchases. The customs officers and the Post of Serbia need to check each mail item. They have to decide which shipping can be released for immediate delivery and which has to go through customs inspection and clearance. This process requires resources and causes delays for the buyers.
The Customs Administration and Post of Serbia in cooperation with the German Alliance for Trade Facilitation recognised this as a barrier to the flow of goods. Thus, they jointly aim to create a more efficient process trough PAP Postal. PAP speeds up the customs clearance as information on the shipments can be submitted to the border control prior to their physical arrival.
As the legal background in Serbia is already in place, further activities will focus on optimising the organisational structure. This includes the coordination of the joint processes, and communication among customs and post officers. The joint workshop fostered the dialogue. The next step will be to create an unanimous business process model.
 An Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) is defined by the SAFE Framework of Standards of the World Customs Organization (WCO) as 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 as complying with WCO or equivalent supply chain security standards. (Source: https://tfig.unece.org/contents/authorized-economic-operators.htm)