(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Countries signatory to the Agadir Agreement - Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia - are now studying the European Union (EU) model in applying the authorised economic operator (AEO) policy and other policies related to customs procedures.
"Granting AEO status to any economic operator meeting certain standards is a way to save time and money and ensure an easy flow of commodities within the country or abroad," Waleed Nozahi, executive president of the Agadir Technical Unit (ATU), told The Jordan Times yesterday.
Under the system, enterprises can apply for AEO status and thus benefit from facilitations, either through easier access to customs simplifications or advanced favourable positions, according to Nozahi.
During a workshop to acquaint member countries with the AEO system applied in EU countries and its importance for Agadir, Nozahi said this system allows economic entities to benefit from simplified customs rules after they meet specific requirements.
"These criteria include financial solvency, security, customs compliance and clean customs records," he indicated, noting that the workshop would help member countries improve their local AEO systems before applying it on a wider scale.
"If the laws governing any agreement are not harnessed, then there will be no use for any accord between countries we should reach a common formula for Agadir countries to ease the flow of commodities among them," Nozahi stressed.
Participants at the four-day workshop are also being acquainted with best European customs practices, such as risk management and means to cooperate in exchanging data and studies among countries that belong to a common preferential trade area.
Jordan Customs Department Director General Ghaleb Sarayreh said that the department has achieved "benchmarks" during the last two decades in developing its performance, which led to reduced manual inspection of goods through the use of state-of-the-art methods in cooperation with security bodies.
"We are now using non-intrusive equipment to inspect commodities without risk of causing any harm to them and to ensure speedy clearance," he said, adding that the workshop will help build the capacity of workers in customs departments in member states.
Signed in February 2004, the Agadir Agreement allows the four countries to cumulate origin to export to the EU duty-free and quota-free.
This means that even if a Jordanian input into a product is not large enough for that product to be exported freely from Jordan to the EU, Egyptian, Tunisian or Moroccan input can be added, so that the required value-added percentage is reached and the product can enter the EU market and enjoy the same privileges.
The agreement was designed to create an integrated market of 120 million people and allow industries in the signing countries to cooperate in exporting to large economic powers such as the EU and the US, providing an even larger market. The deal is also meant to promote mutual investment among member states, and to make their shared economic space more attractive.
Despite the fact that more countries are applying to be part of Agadir, such as Palestine and Lebanon, the core benefits of the agreement are still "yet to come".
"The agreement is still new and still has not borne fruit. The agreement is significant in applying the rules of cumulative origin which give the countries eligibility for preferential tariff treatment," ATU senior adviser Mohammad Samir told The Jordan Times yesterday.