Successful close of the document-based PTC meeting

07 julio 2020

On Friday 3 July 2020, the Chairperson of the Permanent Technical Committee (PTC) Mr. Matthew Duckworth (Australia), closed the first WCO meeting organized in a fully document-based manner. In his closing remarks, Mr. Duckworth thanked all the delegates for their participation in the meeting over the past weeks and stressed that the constructive spirit of engagement, discussion and compromise shown by all participants secured some substantial outcomes from the meeting, including on items such as e-commerce. “Together, we demonstrated at this critical time that it is possible to manage the important technical work of the WCO in a virtual format under extraordinary circumstances.”

Almost 140 delegates, representing WCO Member Customs Administrations and Observers from several International Organizations and the Private Sector participated in this document-based PTC meeting. Over the seven weeks, more than 390 inputs and comments were submitted through the CLiKC! PTC group, from 32 Members, 7 Observers and the Secretariat.

All nine agenda items were successfully concluded with exchanges taking place under 21 discussion topics, including on the role of Customs in mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce, strategic foresight and passenger control and facilitation.

Under the COVID-19 item, the PTC took note of the proposals, to be discussed further, for future WCO work with regard to the role of Customs in the different phases of the disaster management cycle, including conducting a review and gap analysis of existing instruments and tools, developing a new tool dealing with business continuity and the role of Customs, as well as developing a database or compendium of best practices.

As regards to e-commerce, the PTC endorsed: three outstanding annexes to the E-Commerce Package; the Compendium of E-Commerce Case Studies; the update/maintenance mechanism of the E-Commerce Framework of Standards; and the capacity building plan for E-Commerce.

Furthermore, under the future of Customs agenda, the PTC endorsed the proposed plan of future work on strategic foresight and endorsed the proposed roadmap for the development of the Strategic Plan 2022-2025 back-to-back with a triennial Environmental Scan.

Turning to performance measurement, the PTC agreed on the likely need to extend the Working Group on Performance Measurement Timeframe and the deadline for the activities envisaged under the Work Plan, and supported further discussion at the next PTC on the Policy Commission and Council extending the mandate of the working group.

The document-based approach also allowed for a number of other relevant documents and tools to be endorsed, such as: the Business Case and draft Terms of Reference (ToR) of the new Working Group on Passenger Facilitation and Control (PFCWG); the amendments to the ToR for the Counterfeiting and Piracy (CAP) Group; the Compendium of Practices in the Area of Transit; and the Final Report of the Technical Experts Group on Air Cargo Security (TEGACS) to the Policy Commission.

Finally, the meeting took note of the proposal to establish an ad-hoc mini group to draft new PTC Rules of Procedure (RoP) for extraordinary circumstances, such as those posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The proponents were invited to work with the Secretariat over the summer to identify those areas of the PTC RoP that will need to be addressed and use the outcomes of this exercise to inform the discussions of the Policy Commission/Council. The group is open for other delegations to join.

In the upcoming weeks, the Chairperson and the Secretariat will assess the lessons learnt from this first document-based WCO meeting to adjust the procedures to be applied during the autumn PTC meeting, taking into account any further changes to the overall circumstances that may arise.