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In my last posts, I wrote about the “GSP” – Generalized System of Preferences — program. That is just one of the many acronyms that we use in the international trade arena. I’m starting a series, “International Trade Alphabet Soup” that will periodically list and provide context for some key acronyms in the world of international business and trade. Here is Part “A”:


ACPAfrican Caribbean Pacific Group of States: an organization created by 79 countries which are former colonies of various European states to manage their trade relationship with the European Union. Today they also cooperate in various international fora.

ACP Group of Countries (Source:

ACE – Automated Commercial Environment: the computerized customs management system of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency.

ACTPN — Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations: one of 28 advisory committees to the U.S. Office of the Trade Representative. This committee provides U.S. public and private sector views on US trade policy and negotiations.

ADBAsian Development Bank: provides grants, loans and technical assistance to support projects in five core areas, including regional cooperation and trade, in developing countries in Asia and the Pacific. Its shareholders are 67 Asian and non-Asian countries. The Bank also funds and operates the Asian Development Fund which offers low-interest loans and grants to the Bank’s poorest borrowing members.

AEO – Authorized Economic Operator – a party involved in the international movement of goods which has been approved by the national Customs authority to be in compliance with the World Customs Organization (WCO) SAFE Framework of Standards on supply chain security. An AEO may be a manufacturer, exporter, importer, broker, distributor, forwarder, air/seaport, etc. (The United States implements the SAFE Framework through its C-TPAT program.)

AfDBAfrican Development Bank provides loans, equity investments and technical assistance (see programs) to governments and private sector entities investing in its member countries. The Bank also operates the African Development Fund – ADF —  which provides concessional loans (lower interest rates & longer repayment terms), grants and technical assistance to low-income African countries for projects and programs aimed at reducing poverty.

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AFREXIMBANKAfrican Export-Import Bank: promotes African trade by financing eligible imports and exports of Participating States. The bank is headquartered in Cairo, Egypt, with branches in Abuja, Nigeria and Harare, Zimbabwe.

AGOAAfrican Growth & Opportunities Act: U.S. program that provides eligible African imported goods, including textiles and apparel from 40 sub-Saharan African countries with preferential (unilateral duty-free) access to the U.S. market. The countries must meet US eligibility criteria.

APAC – Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee for Trade: one of 28 advisory committees to the U.S. Office of the Trade Representative. This committee provides U.S. public and private sector perspectives on US trade in agriculture.

APECAsia Pacific Economic Cooperation: a forum of 21 member countries, including the United States, that share a coastline on the Pacific Ocean and a commitment to reduce barriers to trade and investment among themselves. APEC has established the goal of free and open trade among its members by 2020.

APTAAsia Pacific Trade Agreement: a trade agreement between Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, Republic of Korea and Sri Lanka, developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Formerly known as the Bangkok Agreement, it covers free trade in goods, except for agricultural goods.

ASEAN  — Association of Southeast Asian Nations: a geo-political and economic organization of ten countries located in Southeast Asia. The ASEAN Free Trade Area — AFTA – provides for free movement of goods and services among the members.

ASYCUDAAutomated SYstem for CUstoms DAta: a computerised customs management system designed by UNCTAD and in use by about 90 countries and growing. It covers most foreign trade procedures, including manifests and customs declarations, and generates trade data that can be used for statistical economic analysis.

ATA (Admission temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet – is an international customs document that replaces the need for the importer to buy temporary import bonds for eligible goods on which no import duties are owed because the goods will be re-exported within one year. Carnets are issued by guaranteeing associations in 80 countries and secured by an international guarantee system under the Customs convention on the A.T.A. Carnet for the temporary admission of goods.

ATACsAgricultural Technical Advisory Committees for Trade: six sector-specific advisory committees on agriculture to the U.S. Office of the Trade Representative. They provide U.S. public and private sector perspectives on US trade negotiating objectives and bargaining positions and on the administration and operation of concluded trade agreements.

ATPA – Andean Trade Preference Act: U.S. program that has provided goods from four South American countries with preferential (unilateral duty-free) access to the U.S. market. Three of these countries, Columbia, Ecuador and Peru have signed Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with the United States and the program with Bolivia has been suspended.

AUAfrican Union: a political and administrative union of 54 African member states with the mission of driving African integration and development. The AU oversees the New Partnership for African’s Development – NEPAD — an economic development program that includes the goal of integrating Africa into the global economy. valorem – Latin-derived term meaning “to the value”. An ad valorem tariff or duty is applied as a percentage of the value of imported goods.