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WCO-UPU Contact Committee irons out the implementation of advance electronic data exchange mechanisms

28 November 2016

Over 40 experts from Customs administrations and postal operators met in Brussels from 23 to 24 November 2016 under the framework of the WCO-UPU Contact Committee to discuss a number of issues of common interest with a view to developing collaborative solutions.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Ana B. Hinojosa, Director Compliance and Facilitation WCO, underlined the need of fostering greater cooperation between Posts and Customs at the national level. Given the emerging digital and e-commerce environment, she urged Posts and Customs to establish/enhance electronic interfaces in order to better support the growing e-commerce and at the same time enhance the postal supply chain safety and security by leveraging modern technologies in Posts and Customs’ business processes.

The Contact Committee discussed means and ways to simplify and speed up post-Customs formalities while ensuring effective Customs control and compliance to various regulatory requirements. It reviewed the ongoing work regarding the implementation of electronic exchange of data between Posts and Customs and approved several projects to move forward.

Indeed, the processing of postal items by Customs and Posts is still largely manual, as CN22/23 (simplified declaration forms for postal items) are generated and submitted to Customs primarily in a paper form along with the parcel. This poses several challenges in terms of timely and effective management of risks including those relating to security and safety, efficient revenue collection, faster release and clearance, and speedy delivery.

The WCO and the UPU have already developed the joint electronic messaging standards, and the UPU’s Postal Technology Centre has developed an electronic Customs Declaration System (CDS) which allows customers to enter data online, and enables Posts to exchange such data electronically with Customs. It also enables Customs administrations to inform Posts about action required with respect to any given item prior to its arrival.

Building upon the work already done, the Committee discussed practical issues regarding the implementation of postal-Customs Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), such as the technical requirements for the CDS implementation, the impact on postal operators and on their operational processes, including challenges related to data collection and data quality and strategies for facilitating the customer transition to electronic data entry. To this end, the Committee decided to develop a comprehensive guidance material providing a step-by-step approach with necessary requisites including legal and technical enablers.

Moving on, the Committee also decided to develop a comprehensive strategy to provide tailor-made capacity building and technical assistance in establishing the electronic interface between Post and Customs based on their national requirements. It  approved the idea and the content of a questionnaire to ascertain the preparedness of postal operators and Customs administrations in terms of capturing, exchanging, and using data in an electronic format.

The Committee also recognized the need of high-level engagements with policy makers from Customs and Posts around the world to discuss and explore strategic and policy issues and their

Implementation in a standardized and harmonized manner, and agreed to organize a joint global strategic conference as a step forward.

Trade facilitation and simplification of procedures, particularly in the context of growing e-commerce via postal chain and the impending implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation to further support MSMEs’ access to the global market through enhanced cooperation between Customs and Posts including their engagement through National Committees on Trade Facilitation (NCTFs) were identified as other key areas for continued work.

Acknowledging the  mapping the WCO SAFE Framework of Standards and the UPU security standards S58 and S59, (which showed a high level of consistency and some differences in the approach in a few areas), the Committee acknowledged the UPU’s implementation strategy of S58 & 59. Delegates also discussed the relevance of Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) status to postal operators and the challenges related to the certification, and noted that designated operators complying with UPU security standards would have a better chance of acquiring AEO status.  

Last but not the least, the results of drug enforcement operation (SKY NET II) focusing on postal consignments together with Members’ experiences were presented which indicated the increasing misuse of the postal services by criminals for illicit trade. Delegates also shared their strategies to improve targeting and controls efficiency at the operational level such as the use of advance data analytics and new scanning technologies (e.g., object recognition technology, 3D new generation x-ray technology).