A widespread lack of AEO accreditation (Authorised Economic Operator) across Scotland’s brewing and distilling sector could result in a dramatic reduction in exports to the EU, a leading Customs trade expert is warning.

Allan Bird, a Customs & Excise manager with Campbell Dallas, and former AEO specialist with HMRC, is urging B&D companies trading with the EU to address the AEO issue as soon as possible, and develop a plan to ensure they can undertake ‘frictionless’ post-Brexit exporting.

He said: “AEO status endows a business with a ‘Trusted Trader’ badge, which is expected to provide a fast track customs process in a post-Brexit EU. The AEO status will help provide frictionless trade with the EU, and will be the benchmark for compliance with customs systems, controls and financial solvency. Exporting without AEO status will become increasingly onerous, costly and unattractive, with the risk that many of Scotland’s thriving drinks businesses will find the export market less attractive.”

Allan Bird added: “AEO status will confer fast-tracking of goods at border customs. It will also lead to a dramatic reduction in costs and delays, with AEO accredited companies likely to enjoy priority treatment. We are concerned at the low awareness of AEO in Scotland’s brewing and distilling sector, and that application levels for AEO status are negligible. Companies need to start the process now, as there will soon be a bottleneck of applications and long delays for a process that currently can take a year to complete”.

AEO authorisation embraces customs simplifications, security and safety or a combination of both, and companies can choose which level is most suitable. Businesses must meet strict criteria set down by HMRC, who require several days on company premises to review procedures and personnel.

Allan Bird pointed out that in Germany, in 2017 over 6000 companies had AEO accreditation, but in the UK the figure was just 700. “We have a long way to go and Scotland’s brewing and distilling companies need a great deal of support from the business community to ensure they become AEO-compliant as soon as possible.”

For more information please contact Allan Bird, Customs & Excise Manager here. Our specialist VAT and Brewing & Distilling teams will also be able to offer you support on this.

Campbell Dallas has scheduled events across Scotland during October on AEO and Brexit-related exporting issues. Click the links below to register to attend:

Aberdeen – 31 October

Edinburgh – 24 October

Glasgow – 3 October

Perth – 23 October

Stirling – 24 October

This information should not be regarded as financial advice. This is based on our understanding in September 2018. Laws and tax rules may change in the future.