Three more enterprises have been recognised as "authorised economic operator (AEO)" within 12 months by the General Department of Vietnam Customs on, bringing the nation's total AEOs to 12.

The new AEOs include the Vietsovpetro Joint venture; the Vietnam Rubber Group and the Canon Vietnam Ltd.

"The 3 AEOs are law-abiding enterprises with big ex-import turnovers and great contribution to the country's economic development," the customs deputy director general Nguyen Duong Thai at the ceremony on Jan. 14.

AEO enterprises will be given special preferences in customs procedures such as an exemption from inspections of detailed customs documents and goods or exemption from post-entry audits. Enterprises will be able to perform e-customs 24 hours a day, seven days a week and pay customs tax and fees monthly through banks, among other preferences.

"We are very honoured to be recognised as an AEO. It creates favourable conditions for our ex-imports as well as management and business," said Katsuyoshi Soma, CEO and General Director of Canon Vietnam , a 3.17 billion USD turnover company in 2010.

"AEO brings a lot of profits to enterprises. They save customs processing time, reduce costs and warehouse fees as well as human resources," said Director of the Customs Post-Clearance Inspection Department Pham Thanh Binh.

"AEO also helps increase the prestige of enterprises toward their business partners and through that, their business runs easier and more convenient," added Binh.

Representative of the Minh Phu Aquaculture Group, one of the first AEOs, said that in AEO recognition, the company can reduce customs time from seven days to one day and save between 80-100 USD per container of goods.

The 12 AEOs were selected from 23 candidates applying for AEO recognition since May 2010, when the customs sector started its pilot project. The sector opened applications for preferential custom procedures for enterprises meeting certain conditions. The pilot project was seen as an important step in reforming customs in preparation for the sector integrating into regional and international arenas.

Candidates for AEO must be on the list of lowest risk companies and satisfy various conditions, such as having an import-export turnover of at least 100 per year for domestic aquaculture/agriculture and crude oil products and at least 500 million USD per year for all other sectors. Turnover for high-tech companies will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

The AEO policies target a group of 250 big exporters and importers that have a turnover between 100-500 million USD, among the more than 40,000 enterprises operating in Vietnam . The customs department would review the project after one year implementation, according to Binh.

The department said that more than 40,000 ex-importers had contributed ex-import turnovers totalling 200billion USD in Vietnam by the end of 2011./.