The emergence of e-commerce is rapidly changing the domestic and international business landscape. The growth in cross-border e-commerce is also impacting the application of Customs regulations. Against this backdrop, the World Customs Organization (WCO) has embarked on several e-commerce projects including the launch of the E-commerce Working Group and in-country fieldwork that focuses on Customs-Business co-operation, trade facilitation, compliance, revenue, and other e-commerce related matters. The research is enabling the WCO to collect technical and policy information on cross-border e-commerce with the purpose of identifying Customs best practices and possibly developing new tools.
The first WCO research mission on cross-border e-commerce took place 21-28 March 2017 in China, where the e-commerce infrastructure is well-established, and was conducted by Robert Ireland (Head of the WCO Research Unit) and Hao Wu (also from the WCO Research Unit).
With the support of China Customs, the WCO officials visited local Customs offices, other government agencies, and e-commerce enterprises. The Customs offices of Shenzhen, Shanghai and Hangzhou presented their Customs procedures for controlling and facilitating cross-border e-commerce. The WCO delegation also met with the Management Committee of Hangzhou Cross-border Comprehensive Pilot Area; the Authority of Shenzhen Qianhai; Alibaba; SF Express; and YTO Express. In addition, the Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation of ICC China hosted a roundtable meeting with the WCO delegation, where the participants discussed e-commerce and border regulations.
The WCO delegation also met with representatives from the Shanghai Customs College, where they discussed topics for research and the upcoming WCO PICARD Conference.
“Due to the excellent coordination and cooperation, the research mission was very fruitful in gathering the e-commerce experiences of China Customs, local government agencies, and the private sector,” said Mr. Ireland. “Going forward, the WCO will publish research on this topic for the benefit of all WCO Members, the private sector, and other relevant stakeholders.”