On behalf of the American Association of Exporters and Importers, I'm writing to express our disappointment with a news brief in the ''Radar Screen'' section of the October 2-8 issue of JoC Week. The AAEI Executive Committee has made steady progress in its search for a new executive director.

We are interviewing several candidates, all of whom possess proven management skills as well as considerable expertise, experience and stature in the customs and international trade community. We have every confidence that we will obtain an executive director who is expertly equipped to lead AAEI as it meets new challenges in a new century. We disagree with your assertion that AAEI's role as the leading voice of the international trade community has yielded to other groups.

AAEI, with its broad industry representation, is still the largest national organization devoted to customs and trade issues. AAEI will co-host an industry-wide meeting with the Business Alliance for Customs Modernization (BACM), the Joint Industry Group and the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America on Dec. 6 in Washington to reach general accord and strategize on the issues now facing us collectively.

AAEI has not been silent with regard to recent attempts to obtain funding for automation and to revise entry procedures. AAEI submitted comprehensive comments on both drafts of Customs' Entry Revision Proposal after many hours of extensive meetings with Customs officials and representatives of the trade community. With regard to automation funding, AAEI recently launched a large-scale letter campaign to key congressional committees that hold jurisdiction over this monumental issue. AAEI also recently filed amicus curiae briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit advocating our members' position with regard to two critical Customs decisions currently under review. All of these documents were and continue to be part of the public record, readily available to Journal of Commerce staff.

While AAEI transitions into the next phase of its 80-year existence, it has every intention of maintaining its edge as the united voice of the international trade community.

Michael D. Laden

Director of Import Administration and Customs Compliance, Target Corp., Minneapolis

Chairman, American Association of Exporters and Importers, New York