WCO successfully participate in the Africa e-Commerce Week

18 December 2018

At the invitation of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the WCO successfully participated in the Africa e-commerce week event, held in Kenya, Nairobi, from 10 to 14 December 2018.

The objective of the event was to bring together a multiplicity of actors, including senior government representatives, private sector, civil society and international organizations for a full week dialogue on e-commerce, with a great focus for the African continent.

Under the theme "Empowering African Economies in the Digital Era", the Africa e-Commerce Week, inter alia, discussed and examined ways to strengthen the ability of African countries to engage in and benefit from the exponential growth of e-commerce worldwide and the evolving digital economy.

During the second day of the conference participants had the opportunity to welcome Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta, the President of the Republic of Kenya. With a special presence of the UNCTAD Secretary-General, Mr. Mukhisa Kituyi, the Vice – President, and the European Commissioner for Digital Single Market and Vice President of the European Commission, Mr. Andrus Ansip, respectively, and other entities, Mr. Kenyatta made a distinct call for Africa to play its part in shaping international rule-making on e-commerce and the digital economy recognizing that e-commerce is growing globally.

The WCO was represented at senior management level by Ms. Ana Hinojosa, Director Compliance and Procedures, who was invited as guest speaker in different high level events, including round-table discussion on what governments can do to support a beneficial e-commerce in Africa and the High-Level Dialogue on Trade and the Digital Economy in Africa continent.

In the first panel, H.E. Alioune Sarr, the Minister of Trade of the Republic of Senegal, led the discussion and Ms. Arancha Gonzalez, the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre and a number of others participated. Ms. Hinojosa underscored that the WCO is working closer with Customs Administrations to ensure that they are able to better manage challenges and opportunities which emerged as result of the growing volume of cross border e-commerce goods.

Additionally, in the High-Level Dialogue on Trade and the Digital Economy in Africa continent which Mr. Kituyi and Mr. Andrus Ansip and other high level official in representations of various institutions also attended, the WCO Director, amongst other things, pointed out that risk management and the use of Non-Intrusive Inspections equipment are very important for Customs Administration to address some of the challenges that have emerged as result of the exponential growth of e-commerce. In response to a number of participants’ questions, Director Hinojosa provided a detailed explanation on the concept and rationale for de minimus thresholds, and emphasized that WCO Members must make a thorough economic impact study to be able to accurately assess the appropriate level of de minimus threshold for their respective country.

As the week continued the WCO participated in a number of technical panels on various aspects relating to e-commerce.