Leading compliance specialists, VARTAN Consultancy has successfully worked with Peel Ports Group to secure AEO (Authorised Economic Operator) status across its five-strong UK port network*. Miles Vartan, founder of the Felixstowe-based consultancy, says: “The Group certification process took in excess of a year. At the start of the process, Graeme Charnock, CFO of Peel Ports Group asked whether I felt the Group would achieve AEO, and happily, I was able to say that I was 100% confident. Having acted as consultants for over 10% of all UK companies that have achieved AEO status, we knew how to link to the robustness of the systems Peel Ports already had in place; the Group’s commitment to making changes where required and their determination to apply for and secure certification.” AEO certification brings a range of benefits to the applicant depending on the nature of their international trade operations and the type of status applied for. These include a reduced risk score with HMRC, fewer physical and document-based controls, reduced financial guarantees, prior notification in case of selection for customs control, and access to mutual recognition agreements. Garry Smith, Peel Ports’ Compliance manager, adds: “The timing of our AEO success couldn’t be better. With the continuing Brexit uncertainty, AEO is a very tangible acknowledgement of the quality of our systems and correct customs controls we have in place, but its benefits don’t stop there. As and when the Brexit dust finally settles, certification will also ensure we are at the top of the list when it comes to our customers having access to the benefits of new and or revised trade agreements along with respective mutual recognition agreements.” Miles Vartan concludes: “Peel Ports Group, one of the UK’s leading port operators, is the latest organisation we have navigated through the process of securing AEO or AEOS status. The decision to leave the EU means the shipping industry will be in a state of flux for some considerable time to come. Combine this with over 100 large ports of entry around the UK and authorities including HMRC and Border Force wanting to work with ‘trusted traders’ first and foremost, AEO accreditation puts a company in an excellent position to facilitate trade and to assist the UK with maintaining secure and safe borders.” *Peel Ports to has successfully achieved AEO status for the following ports: Clydeport Operations Limited, Port of Sheerness Limited, The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company Limited, The Manchester Ship Canal Company Limited’ and Great Yarmouth Port Company Limited.