Working Group on E-Commerce finalises the Framework of Standards on Cross-Border E-Commerce

16 April 2018

The WCO Working Group on E-Commerce (WGEC) met for the 3rd time at the WCO headquarters in Brussels from 9 to 12 April 2018. This meeting brought together more than 150 delegates from Customs administrations, other government agencies, the private sector, other international organizations, e-vendors/platforms, express service providers, postal operators, freight forwarders, Customs brokers and academia to mainly discuss and develop a ‘Framework of Standards on Cross-Border E-Commerce’.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Ana B. Hinojosa, WCO Director Compliance and Facilitation applauded the work done by the WGEC thus far. Noting the expectations of WCO Members and stakeholders, she underlined the importance of the ongoing work relating to the development of a Framework of Standards that could provide a globally harmonized approach to ensure the speedy delivery of parcels across borders, while ensuring compliance with all regulatory requirements including safety and security and revenue collection.

The Co-Chairpersons Mr. Xiangyang Sun (China) and Ms. Marianne Rowden (the Private Sector Consultative Group) outlined the priorities and work programme of the WGEC with a view to delivering a pragmatic and standardised framework on cross-border E-Commerce that could optimally meet expectations of all stakeholders.

Through the course of 4 days, delegates were intensely engaged in constructive and robust discussions that led to the finalisation of a draft Framework of Standards. This draft Framework of Standards will be submitted to the April 2018 Permanent Technical Committee (PTC) and the June 2018 Policy Commission and Council for their consideration and adoption.

This Framework of Standards is expected to be a comprehensive instrument for assisting WCO Members in developing E-Commerce strategic and operational frameworks, working in close cooperation with E-Commerce stakeholders. It will be equally useful for Members who are seeking to enhance existing frameworks in order to effectively meet the requirements of new and evolving business models.

Going forward, the Framework will be supported by an implementation strategy and action plan, as well as a robust capacity building mechanism to ensure its harmonized and expeditious implementation, based on national and regional needs and imperatives.

The Group also held a preliminary discussion on the data elements for effective risk management and speedy clearance of E-Commerce shipments, together with who would have that data and who could provide it in a timely manner.

In addition, the WGEC approved an updated version of the Immediate Release Guidelines that have been adapted to the E-Commerce environment for supporting an expeditious release/clearance of increasing cross-border E-Commerce shipments/parcels.

Regarding the next steps, the draft Framework of Standards would be further enriched with Technical Specifications, guidelines and case studies for harmonised and effective implementation of the Standards. The WGEC agreed to continue work on identified issues through constructive engagements with relevant stakeholders.