Information Management Sub-Committee (IMSC) lays down a strong basis for Customs modernization and innovation at its 73rd Meeting

06 November 2017

The 73rd Meeting of the IMSC, held on 30 and 31 October 2017, was attended by 42 participants from Customs administrations, the private sector, academia and other international organizations.

In her opening remarks, Mrs. Ana Hinojosa, Director of the Compliance and Facilitation Directorate, stressed that information and communication technology (ICT) is a crucial part of modern life. The Customs community is pursuing the use of ICT to perform its role of facilitating, securing and controlling cross-border movements of goods in an efficient manner.

The international supply chain involves a wide range of actors from the private and public sectors.  Effective collaboration between these actors is key to reducing the complexities associated with cross-border trade processes.  The use of the WCO Data Model to harmonize and standardize communication protocols enables these actors to interoperate seamlessly.  To this end, the IMSC endorsed all the deliverables submitted by the Data Model Projects Team (DMPT) in relation to finalization of the new version of the WCO Data Model (Version 3.7.0) to be issued by the end of 2017.  In addition, the IMSC endorsed the DMPT’s new scope of work for 2018 that includes finalization of the Trader Identification Number (TIN) and its subsequent trader master data message format, and finalization of the Guidance on the WCO Data Model for non-technical users.

Furthermore, taking into account the emergence of e-commerce transactions whose volume is growing year on year, the IMSC tasked the DMPT with collaborating closely with the Working Group on E-Commerce to develop technical standards for interconnectivity with new e-commerce actors, such as e-marketplaces.

The Single Window is recognized as a platform for facilitating coordination between government agencies in managing borders.  The IMSC is developing a definition of services and features that could be incorporated in a Single Window environment.  A list of these services and features could be used as a reference and checklist for administrations that are developing their own Single Window system.

The use of data is extremely important for the Customs community.  It enables Customs to undertake effective risk assessment, targeting, control and monitoring of the international movement of goods.  The IMSC held a breakout session to examine a draft Handbook on Data Analysis to guide Customs in taking the use of data one step further, in order to anticipate future trends through predictive analytics.  Among other things, the IMSC suggested that the following topics be included in the draft Handbook: using the iterative evaluation processes to continually improve analytic methods, achieving a balance with respect to data security measures through data security risk assessment, classifying data confidentiality levels and setting up data security policy, deepening the understanding of unstructured and open source data, and using predictive analytics for optimizing policy, services and resource allocation.

The IMSC examined the reuse of commercial data originally utilized in the supply chain by the private sector.  Discussions were held on the new and emerging technology of smart containers, with consideration being given to Customs potentially reusing the data generated by such devices.  In addition, the IMSC heard from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) about its One Record initiative enabling users to virtually assemble a range of interconnected information that is physically dispersed among different sources.  This initiative could provide Customs with the opportunity to access commercial data.

The IMSC examined several pilot projects and initiatives on emerging Blockchain technology.  This concept promises a secure and trusted environment for electronic transactions that could help Customs in managing compliance issues.

With a view to accomplishing the tasks outlined in the WCO Work Programme on Digital Customs, the IMSC discussed the need to review and update several WCO instruments and tools, such as the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) ICT Guidelines and the WCO Recommendations concerning ICT.  The IMSC agreed to a proposal to incorporate several WCO Recommendations relating to interoperability into the Recommendation on the use of the WCO Data Model. A Virtual Working Group was set up to help Members provide further experience-based input to the work plan during the intersession.