Stacking Intermodal container in Port of Chittagong
Chittagong Port. Photo: Moheen Reeyad, Wikipedia

In a bid for faster delivery of import containers, Bangladesh Customs has extended its authorised economic operator (AEO) scheme to nine more renowned companies.

For AEO-affiliated firms, imported cargo does not go through physical checking and is directly delivered to factories or warehouses, avopiding any delays at a port yard.

Customs is hoping the number of containers at terminal yards and inland container depots will not go beyond tolerable limits, alleviating any congestion difficulties.

Chittagong’s port yards and depots are infamous for congestion, and the number of containers at the facilities frequently goes beyond their storage capacity.

The Dhaka government is also working on mutual AEO agreements and recognition in countries that are key trading partners  to extend the benefits further and allow AEO holders to complete customs valuation procedures, including bills of entry, before ships arrive at destination ports.

The nine new AEO certificate holders are: Fair Electronics, Shoeniverse Footwear, Jihan Footwear, ACI Godrej Agrovet, Towa Personal Protective Device Bangladesh, Cutting Edge Industries, Omera Cylinders, MBM Garments and Footsteps Bangladesh.

Bangladesh introduced AEO facilities in in 2019, when three top pharmaceuticals companies were granted the facility. However, the list of AEO companies wasn’t extended due to pandemic-related disruption.

In April last year, the customs department invited applications from businesses interested in being listed as AEOs and, following scrutiny of these applications, the authority approved the nine companies, while checks on more applications are under way.

Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Munim, chairman, National Board of Revenue, said: “We want to enhance the number of AEO companies. The AEO facility shows there is a relationship of confidence among businessmen and the customs authority.”

Jashim Uddin, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said as Bangladesh graduated from the least-developed country group, businesses “would have to follow rules far more closely”, otherwise they will face difficulties in transporting cargo.

According to the Time Release Study 2022, conducted by the World Customs Organisation, customs officials in Bangladesh seaports are taking, on average, more than 11 days to to release cargo.

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