Supply Chain Security

Over many years, international trade and transport networks and infrastructures have been identified as potential targets for international terrorism and cross-border crime. While Customs have always been in charge of controlling international trade in terms of prohibitions and restrictions, the aspect of securing the international trade supply chain has put growing and additional burdens on Customs to manage this balance.

In response to this growing challenge, the World Customs Organization (WCO) adopted the SAFE Framework of Standards in 2005 to provide a stronger focus on those principles of the Revised Kyoto Convention that improve cooperation among Customs administrations, provide supply chain security and facilitation at a global level to promote certainty and predictability. It also provides an international framework for standardization and harmonization of authorized economic operator programmes.

As a government task for Customs, supply chain security puts additional pressure on Customs to find the right balance between control/security and trade facilitation. The SAFE Framework of Standards contains a number of important standards especially dedicated to trade facilitation. SAFE calls for the harmonization of advance electronic cargo information requirements and the employment of a consistent risk management approach to address threats. It established the concept of the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) as a way to provide legitimate trade with a mechanism to receive tangible benefits for their commitment to invest in and comply with supply chain security standards. In addition to the AEO, SAFE lays the foundation for mutual recognition of AEO programmes, which means that AEOs would not have to undergo time-consuming accreditation processes in every country again and again.

Finally, the SAFE Framework of Standards makes a strong recommendation for governments to apply the latest non-intrusive inspection technology, which can increase security, but at the same time can help to avoid unnecessary physical inspections.