The Indirect Taxation Authority (ITA) of Bosnia and Herzegovina assigned the first certificate for an authorized economic operator (AEO) in Bosnia and Herzegovina to the company NELT, which represents an important step towards the improvement of trade processes in the country. The AEO program encourages partnership between customs authorities and the private sector to ensure simplified customs procedures, greater trade security and greater competitiveness.
The European Union plays a key role in improving trade and customs capabilities of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the aim of rationalizing customs processes, strengthening international trade and harmonizing with EU standards.
Today we celebrate not only the first allocation of the certificate of an authorized business entity, but also the spirit of cooperation between the European Union, the Indirect Taxation Authority and the business community of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The EU continuously supports BiH in improving the security of international trade and harmonizing it with EU standards, which will help companies to reduce time and costs in international trade and strengthen their reliability as business partners. The EU’s financial assistance and expertise provided to BiH in the trade sector directly contributes to the implementation of the reform agenda for trade and competitiveness in CEFTA in accordance with the requirements of the EU rapprochement process, said Stefano Ellero, head of the Cooperation Department at the EU Delegation to B&H.
The AEO program in Bosnia and Herzegovina was launched in August 2022 with the aim of simplifying customs procedures for companies. In addition to benefits in domestic trade, the program also aims at mutual recognition of certificates within the CEFTA region, enabling authorized business entities to enjoy simplified customs procedures throughout the region. The Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina plans to submit a request for mutual recognition of AEO certificates, following the example of other countries of the CEFTA region such as Moldova, North Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro and Albania, which have already taken this important step.
The ITA deputy director, Vladimir Dragičević said that a company that receives the AEO certificate from the ITA means that it has established business processes and standards that imply a greater degree of trust with the customs authority, which will, on the one hand, affect easier, faster and simpler implementation of customs procedures in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also with the customs authorities of other countries, once the agreements on the mutual recognition of AEO certificates are signed.
The regional project Support to Regional Economic Integration, which is co-financed by the EU and implemented by GIZ, plays a key role in supporting the AEO program in the region. This assistance through a project implemented on behalf of the European Union and the Government of Germany has led to a significant increase in the number of companies that have received AEO status, from only eight AEO certificates issued in 2017 to over 200 certificates by 2023.
General director of Nelta, Goran Cerovina, assessed that by acquiring AEO status, the company got the opportunity to round off the customs simplifications it uses – domestic import clearance, authorised consignee status and customs warehousing.
This status means a lot to us. ITA recognized us as a partner and a company that is reliable, socially responsible and that has a system that ensures the safety, security and correctness of shipments, which satisfies all the principles on which AEO is based. We are extremely glad to keep pace with the other members of the Nelt Group that already have AEO status, he said.
The AEO program is proof of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s commitment to strengthening the business environment. This is actually one of the most advanced trade facilitation initiatives, which aims to simplify trade operations by minimizing delivery times and costs for merchants who meet certain criteria. The implementation of the AEO program is also recognized as one of the priorities of CEFTA members in the perspective of approaching the EU. By achieving the status of AEO, companies like NELT show their dedication to safe and efficient international trade, said Lejla Čaluk from GIZ.
The EU has provided significant financial and technical support to the ITA and is dedicated to fostering a dynamic and safe trade environment in BiH. The EU-funded EU4Trade project was instrumental in the modernization of trade practices in BiH, including the development and implementation of the AEO framework and the Study on measuring the duration of customs procedures, which was also presented today.
The study of measuring the duration of customs procedures represents a significant step forward in the optimization of customs procedures. Carried out with the support of the EU, the study estimates the time required for the release of goods into circulation after customs control, contributing to the improvement of trade efficiency.
With the help of the EU, Bosnia and Herzegovina is taking a key step towards creating a more favorable environment for trade and investment. EU4Trade assistance is aimed at training employees of the ITA textbook, development of the legal framework and awareness raising campaign, especially paving the way for the Nelt company, the first business entity in BiH to apply for the status of AEO. The study of measuring the duration of customs procedures is a valuable tool for harmonizing customs processes and reducing trade bottlenecks, said Andrej Živković, a key expert in the EU4Trade project.
In addition, with the support of the EU4Trade project, the ITA will continue to more efficiently measure the time required for customs clearance using a newly introduced tool (a digital study measuring the duration of customs procedures) that provides precise, paperless and transparent data on shipment processing times at all times. This is a significant step towards harmonising B&H trade practices with EU and international standards.