(UPDATED COVERAGE, Jan. 24) The U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Mexico’s Tax Administration Service have signed an agreement aimed at easing trade between the countries.

The countries agreed to recognize each other’s Authorized Economic Operator programs — the customs/border protection agency’s Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism and Mexico’s New Certified Companies Scheme — which permit companies enrolled in one program to receive reciprocal benefits from the other, making trade easier, according to a CBP news release.

The agreement is expected to be implemented in two years.

The agreement doesn’t address the tomato trade war between the U.S. and Mexico, but it is a very important step toward streamlining overall trade, said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, Nogales, Ariz.

If a company’s supply chain is certified by one country to be secure against threats such as narcotics trafficking, bioterrorism or other areas of concern, Jungmeyer said, then the other country will mutually recognize that certification.

“Efforts like this will pay huge dividends in the future, and hopefully allow fresh produce from trusted shippers to sail through the border much quicker,” he said.

The agreement won’t likely affect existing shippers, who already have figured out how to satisfy both U.S. and Mexican officials on the issue of supply chain security, said Jesse Driskill, general manager of Nogales-based Meyer LLC, Nogales.

But Mexican shippers looking to crack the U.S. market could benefit, Driskill said. Now, if the Mexican government approves a shipper, the U.S. will honor that decision.

“It might help some new people who are coming into the business,” Driskill said. “Previous to this, Customs only cared about what happened in the U.S.”

The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism is a voluntary government-business initiative to build cooperative relationships that strengthen and improve overall international supply chain and U.S. border security. The program was created with the understanding that CBP can provide the highest level of cargo security only through close cooperation with importers, carriers, consolidators, licensed customs brokers and manufacturers.