WCO lays down the foundation of a Framework of Standards Cross-Border E-Commerce

29 January 2018

The WCO E-Commerce Sub-Groups 1 held face-to-face meetings at the WCO headquarters in Brussels from 23 to 25 January 2018. This meeting brought together more than 125 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 discuss and develop a ‘Framework of Standards on Cross-Border E-Commerce’.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Luc De Blieck, WCO Deputy Director of Procedures and Facilitation Sub-Directorate noted that dynamic developments in the international supply chain driven by cross-border E-Commerce and associated challenges required a new 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. He then invited delegates to work collaboratively in order to develop international standards on cross-border E-Commerce, as mandated by the WCO Policy Commission at its December 2017 session.

The Co-Chairpersons Mr. Xiangyang Sun (China) and Ms. Marianne Rowden (the Private Sector Consultative Group) encouraged delegates, representing a broad spectrum of the E-Commerce ecosystem to help develop a constructive narrative with new ideas and initiatives for delivering a pragmatic and standardised framework on cross-border E-Commerce.

Adopting a holistic and inclusive approach, the Sub-Groups initiated the work on developing a ‘Framework of Standards on Cross-Border E-Commerce’, based on the eight key principles contained in the ‘WCO Luxor Resolution on Cross-Border E-Commerce’, adopted by the December 2017 Policy Commission.

Noting that rapidly evolving E-Commerce phenomenon requires international standards for governments/Customs administrations and stakeholders, the Sub-Groups consolidated the outcomes of various ongoing work-streams and developed draft standards, elaborating principles laid down in the Resolution to provide practical and standardized approaches with technical specifications and guidance with respect to their implementation.
The work carried out over these three days scoped out broad contours of the envisaged Framework and laid down a solid foundation for its further development going forward.

Following this meeting, the draft Framework will be further developed and enriched with additional inputs and presented to the relevant WCO working bodies, in particular the Working Group on E-Commerce, the Enforcement Committee, and the Permanent Technical Committee in coming months for their feedback and approvals. It is expected that a finalized draft Framework will be submitted to the June 2018 Policy Commission and the Council for its adoption.

This  ‘Framework of Standards’ is expected to be a comprehensive instrument for assisting WCO Members in developing E-Commerce strategic and operational frameworks.  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.

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.

In line with the recently launched WCO theme of the year 2018 : “A secure business environment for economic development, the ‘Framework of Standards on E-Commerce’ will assist governments and stakeholders in supporting the development of an efficient, secure and sustainable E-Commerce Environment, responding to new realities. 

The four Sub-Groups were established by the WCO Working Group on E-Commerce (WGEC) in 2016 to carry out focused work on the four identified themes : Trade Facilitation and Simplification of Procedures; Safety and Security; Revenue Collection; and Measurement and Analysis.