US and EU Adopt Joint Roadmap Towards Mutual Recognition of Supply Chain Security Programs

On March 27, 2008, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the adoption of the U.S.-EU Joint Customs Cooperation Committee (JCCC) Roadmap towards Mutual Recognition of Trade Partnership Programs. Mutual Recognition of the U.S.'s Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and the EU's Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) supply chain security programs would allow companies to receive benefits similar to those conferred on companies participating in the other country's program.

The Roadmap outlines six areas that the U.S. and the EU will address to achieve the goal of implementing Mutual Recognition: political, administrative, legal, policy, technical/operational, and evaluation. The Roadmap sets forth key benchmarks for measuring progress in each area. 

The U.S. and EU began working towards implementing Mutual Recognition of C-TPAT and AEO in 2007. The initial steps consisted of completing an in-depth comparison of both the U.S. and EU programs and conducting a pilot program in which CBP observed security components of the EU's AEO audit process. The Roadmap was drafted and endorsed based on the conclusions drawn from the initial U.S.-EU effort. 

CBP states that, "Throughout the upcoming year, the U.S. and EU will:

    ·    Establish guidelines regarding information exchanges, including the exchange of validation/audit results and legalities associated with the disclosure of membership details
    ·    Perform joint verifications to determine remaining gaps between AEO/C-TPAT and resolve any discrepancies
    ·    Explore and test an export component for C-TPAT
    ·    Exchange best practices through joint visits and conferences
    ·    Continue dialogue on legal and policy developments under the respective administrations
    ·    Endorse and sign a Mutual Recognition Arrangement
    ·    Evaluate Mutual Recognition benefits for AEO/C-TPAT members

Although a number of tasks remain, both the U.S. and EU are optimistic about eventual achievement of Mutual Recognition in 2009."