Over 150 delegates from Customs, international organizations, private sector associations, the Private Sector Consultative Group and academia met from 3 to 7 April 2017 to discuss various topical items under the Permanent Technical Committee (PTC), one of the key WCO technical committees overseeing work on Procedures and Trade Facilitation.
In her opening remarks, the Director of Compliance and Facilitation Ms. Ana Hinojosa reminded the meeting that the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) had entered into force on 22 February. She stressed: “It’s an exciting time when we are making extra efforts to ensure that we are well prepared and that we are ensuring a coherent and harmonized approach in TFA implementation”. The TFA Working Group is critically engaged in this agenda, but there were a number of PTC items that dealt with tools that support implementation of the TFA technical measures; the PTC adopted the Transit Guidelines, the Handbook on Inward and Outward Processing, the updated Single Window Compendium and the outline of the Guidelines on Customs Brokers that is to be further developed.
However, as stressed by the Director, the PTC’s role goes beyond the TFA. In that respect, the PTC discussed a number of relevant topics such as Data analysis which is WCO’s theme for 2017. The PTC explored ways in which big data and different data analysis methodologies and solutions can support Customs business, focusing especially on its objectives and benefits, data collection and IT solutions.
The Integrated Supply Chain Management (ISCM) concept was fully relaunched. The panel speakers and the discussion that followed provided relevant inputs for the update of the ISCM Guidelines which will ensure that they are adjusted to the current trading environment and that they provide the practical information which will equip Members put into practice this concept so relevant for facilitation and security of the supply chain.
The PTC also discussed its Future of Customs agenda and provided guidance to the relevant Virtual Working Group that will now be focusing on exploring disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, the Internet of Things, Biometrics, Robotics, Blockchains, Virtual Reality and others, by researching and better understanding its functions, benefits and potential employment by Customs. In that context, a private sector representative provided an interesting presentation on the Blockchains and its future potentials for supply chain management. The Virtual Working Group on the Future of Customs will also explore strategic foresight, as a more creative and aspirational approach in building the future. In addition, the research on Global Value Chains will continue to take place under this Group.
The whole of Day III of the PTC was devoted to E-Commerce where the PTC discussed this topic in a number of interesting workshops organized by the co-leads of the four sub-groups under the Working Group on E-Commerce. The delegates provided inputs to the different e-commerce aspects that are now being analyzed, such as Trade Facilitation and Simplification of Procedures, Safety and Security, Revenue Collection, Data Analysis and Risk Management. A separate web article is being posted on the specific results of this full day focused on E-Commerce.
On the Customs-Tax cooperation item, the delegates looked into the challenges especially on the matter of exchange of information and joint databases. The Members’ experiences will be critical in this domain and they were encouraged to share their national experiences that will contribute to a more detailed study to be developed.
The PTC also agreed on the update of the Glossary of International Customs Terms ensuring it is kept up to date.
Finally, the PTC re-elected Mr. Rob Van Kuik (The Netherlands) as the Chairperson and Mr. Matome Mathole (South Africa) as the Vice-Chairperson of the PTC.