WCO host Women in Trade Network Brussels

12 octubre 2018

The WCO hosted a the Women in Trade Network Brussels, on 10 October 2018, for an event to highlight the opportunities and challenges of E-Commerce from a Customs and Trade Compliance point of view. The event boasted a panel discussion representing the views of online marketplaces, customs administrations, postal operators and the private sector at large.

The speakers for the panel discussion were, Kevin Willis from Amazon, Wendy Eitan from the Universal Postal Union(UPU), Xiangyang Sun from the General Administration of China Customs (GACC) and Marianne Rowden from the American Association of Exporters and Importers (AAEI) and Private Sector Consultative Group(PSCG) member. The panel discussion was moderated by WCO Director Ana Hinojosa.

The panel discussion offered the diverse group of attendees a chance to hear from these varying perspectives, about the opportunities and challenges that E-Commerce has brought into their respective areas.

The UPU representative spoke about the many challenges that the “tsunami of packages” has brought to postal operators, yet at the same time, how this phenomenon has also been the lifeline for many postal operators who have seen the rapid decline in letter class mail. She also spoke about the important work of the UPU in helping their member postal operators to adapt to the new realities and meet the demands of the growing volumes and the risks associated with them. She highlighted the importance of the collaboration with the WCO, ICAO and IATA, among others, to help develop standards and harmonize the necessary evolution of the postal sector.

The Amazon representative spoke about the creation of the company, the professional journey that led him to the company and the role of women leaders in the trade compliance career field. He highlighted that the e-marketplaces are operated very much like technology companies and about the role that e-commerce plays as an economic driver for countries. He also spoke about the importance that e-marketplaces have to the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), linking sellers and buyers of all sizes from around the world. Through the creation of innovative approaches to improving and setting a high standard for the online shopping experience with product and service offerings embraced by consumers, MSME e-marketplaces are able to better deal with the traditional barriers to market entry into other countries. In the context of trade compliance, the Amazon representative emphasized the need for simplification in the mechanisms and rules that customs authorities utilize that regulate cross-border E-Commerce. As he explained, compliance to trade regulations aligns with the company’s focus and obsession on delighting customers and, moreover, is a key foundation to predictability and assurance to the delivery expectations of consumers.

The China Customs representative highlighted the efforts by the government to anticipate the negative impacts that the exponential growth of E-Commerce could have on their country, both from a revenue and enforcement perspective. He emphasized that China has taken proactive steps to try to manage the E-Commerce phenomenon to ensure that the growth happens in a positive way. He also underlined the importance of using information technology to clear the large volume of E-Commerce goods.

And finally, the AAEI representative offered a perspective from the private sector about the impact that the exponential growth of E-Commerce on the US. She explained that to some extent the dramatic growth in the US can be attributed to a bit of a convergence of two driving forces, one being the increase in the de minimus threshold in the US to $800 and the significant change in consumer practices related to online purchases. She also noted that the dynamic environment of E-Commerce has changed the global trade patterns, and this makes it an interesting time to be involved in international trade.

The panel was very interactive and participants were very engaged in the topics discussed. The event was capped off with a light networking lunch, co-hosted by Integration Point and the WCO.  Michiko Lloyd of Integration Point, and also representing the Women in Trade Network Brussels, thanked everyone for their participation and invited them to stay engaged with upcoming events of their organization.