As part of APM Terminals’ ongoing drive to set new standards in customer service throughout the Global Terminal Network, APM Terminals Rotterdam has become the latest terminal to have become AEO (Authorized Economic Operator) certified. Established as a means of assuring security in international trade, and in response to the creation of the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) in the United States, AEO Certification, first proposed by the EU in 2005, went into effect on January 1st 2008. The purpose of the AEO initiative is to enhance EU customs authorities’ and certified businesses joint responsibilities for safe and secure cross-border transactions.

There are three categories of certification: Safety and Security, Customs simplification, and a combined certificate. Extensive audits and reviews during the application process certify that EU companies involved in the global supply chain (“economic operators”) are financially strong, in compliance with all customs, safety and security regulations and have proper management structure and procedures in place.

APM Terminals Rotterdam, one of the largest container terminals in Europe, with an annual throughput capacity of 2.7 million TEUs, had been working closely with Dutch Customs for over a year, to inventory the processes of a major container terminal. The joint effort provided the Dutch Customs with a clear set of guidelines for future certification of large container terminals, as well as the AEO certification for APM Terminals Rotterdam.

“As part of the logistical chain, APM Terminals Rotterdam can be placed in the ‘Green Lane’ of AEO certified logistical links, allowing a smoother and faster service to our Customers,” explained Leo de Werker, Customs Specialist at APM Terminals Rotterdam. “In view of future developments of Customs”, he added, “such as the more horizontal supervision, meaning supervision on processes rather then on container level, and the expected automation of Customs processes, APM Terminals Rotterdam will provide a significant advantage for its customers. Use of this ‘Green Lane’ can lead up to 4-5 days, in the whole logistical process.”

For APM Terminals Rotterdam, AEO status will lead to smoother exchanges of information with Dutch Customs in operational processes preventing unnecessary delays. It will also allow for far-reaching automation of processes in the terminal, and will contribute to the implementation of new services, such as the extended gate concept or automatic de-blocking of containers.

“We are very proud to be the first container terminal in the Port of Rotterdam to have achieved the AEO certification”, said APM Terminals Rotterdam Managing Director Hans van Kerkhof.

Joining a select group of approximately 1,000 companies within the European Union, APM Terminals Zeebrugge was also AEO certified as of July 29th, 2009.