WCO shares Customs perspective at UNCTAD E-Commerce Week, Geneva, 24-28 April 2017

03 May 2017

At the invitation of the UNCTAD, the WCO, led by Director Ms. Ana B. Hinojosa, participated in ‘E-Commerce Week’ held in Geneva from 24 to 28 April 2017 with the theme "Towards Inclusive E-Commerce.

E-Commerce is widely recognized as an important driver of innovation, competitiveness, job creation and growth. It could present a huge potential for entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises worldwide. However, there are still a number of issues that need to be considered, including availability of information on cross-border E-Commerce trade for sound border management procedures based on risk assessment ensuring focus on high risk consignments and facilitation of legitimate trade.

A number of speakers throughout the week recognized the good work already underway within the WCO Working Group on E-Commerce (WGEC) and the results achieved so far, including the actions taken under the sub-groups covering the four areas identified as key aspects of E-Commerce:  Trade Facilitation and Simplification of Procedures, Safety and Security, Revenue Collection and Measurement and Analysis.

The Co-Chairs of the WCO WGEC Ms. Marianne Rowden (President and CEO of American Association of Importers and Exporters) and Mr. Gerard Rodrigues (Customs Counselor in the Australian Embassy in Brussels), as well as one of the Sub-Group Leads Mr. José Ansón (Universal Postal Union) in their different sessions drew attention to some of the relevant points relating to management of cross-border E-Commerce and the recommendations stemming from the WGEC.

The WCO together with the UNECE, ITC, and UNCTAD co-organized a panel session on 'E-Commerce and Trade Logistics: New Challenges and Opportunities for International Transport and Trade Facilitation'. Delving upon e-commerce related challenges, in particular those being faced by small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the panel recommended, among others, promoting actions to align Customs procedures with the rise of "small business" trade and recognized Customs’ role in ensuring faster delivery of increasing number of small parcels across borders.

One of the Conference conclusions included the need to look into the information available through Customs declarations for better measuring E-Commerce, which is relevant for further supporting the growth of E-Commerce.

The WCO also participated in the launch ceremony of the 'eTrade for All Online Platform' and expressed its support and emphasized the need of leveraging synergy, while highlighting the WCO's ongoing work in the area of cross-border E-Commerce in terms of developing tangible and simplified solutions.