The U.S. and the Dominican Republic signed this week a mutual recognition arrangement that recognizes the compatibility between the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism and the DR’s Authorized Economic Operator Program. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske said technical experts from the two sides will now begin exchanging the information necessary to start implementing the MRA in the first quarter of 2016.

MRAs indicate that the security requirements or standards of the foreign industry partnership program, as well as its validation or audit procedures, are the same as or similar to those of C-TPAT. According to CBP, the MRA provides both tangible and intangible benefits to program members, including fewer exams when shipping cargo, a faster validation process, common standards, efficiency for customs and business, transparency between customs administrations, business resumption, front-of-the-line processing, and marketability. Kerlikowske noted that the DR’s AEO program has already certified 70 companies and is working to certify more than 100 others.

The MRA with the DR is the first to be signed with a Caribbean nation and the second in Latin America. The U.S. also has MRAs with Canada, the European Union, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan.

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