WCO Conducts Workshop on Digital Customs and E-Commerce for WCO ESA Region

10 April 2018

WCO organized a regional workshop on Digital Customs and E-Commerce for East and Southern Africa (ESA), with the support of Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) and China Customs Cooperation Fund (CCF/China) from 26 to 29 March 2018 in Harare, Zimbabwe.

23 Customs officers of senior and middle management level from 13 countries in the region, representatives from African Union (AU) and the private sector attended the workshop. The workshop was opened by, Mr. Adrian P. Swarres, Acting Commissioner of ZIMRA.

In his opening speech, Mr. Swarres emphasized that the topic of Digital Customs and E-Commerce had become imperative and not optional; Customs administration needed to adopt and complement economic partners through a greater uptake of information and communication technologies (ICT) and E-Commerce solutions in the receiving, processing, and transmission of information and documents.  He noted that the workshop would enable participants to conceptualize how the region could respond to the changing needs and expectations of traders and other stakeholders by using ICT as a powerful tool in Customs modernization and reforms.

The WCO experts presented wide-range of topics relating to Digital Customs and E-Commerce, as well as related WCO instruments and tools, new and emerging technologies and necessary legal and regulatory frameworks to support Customs digitalization and cross-border E-Commerce management. Participants shared their respective national experiences including new initiatives in these domains. There were comprehensive, interactive and intensive discussions during the workshop that included group exercises.

The representatives from AU expressed their enthusiastic to coordinate with Customs administrations of the region and shared their work on “Interconnectivity of the computerized Customs clearance systems” and “Tracking E-Commerce data and regulatory challenges for developing countries”. The WCO experts and AU representatives further discussed on the future joint efforts by elaborating specific activities on E-Commerce under the framework of the MOU signed between the two organizations.