The PTC launches the discussion on Small Island Economies

13 November 2018

Over 140 delegates from Customs, the private sector, international organizations and academia met for the 221st/222nd Sessions of the Permanent Technical Committee held from 5 to 8 November 2018 in Brussels, to discuss numerous topics pertaining to Customs procedures and facilitation, under the Chairmanship of Mr. Ian Saunders (US).

A number of new topics were launched, such as the one on small island economies. A panel of speakers looked into the numerous vulnerabilities and challenges they are facing, with a view to identifying means of supporting their particular goals and requirements, including the integration with global value chains, through the accession to, and implementation of, key WCO instruments and tools. The WCO Secretary General Mr. Kunio Mikuriya addressed the panel and underlined WCO’s readiness to provide the necessary support and look into this matter in a more targeted manner.

The gender equality and diversity agenda, which is being driven by the Capacity Building Committee, was now looked into by the PTC from a very specific point of view. A panel discussed the role of women in IT and the particular challenges they are being faced with. This session attracted a lot of interest and put forward a number of recommendations for enhancing gender equality within this particular area.

The PTC also started its exploratory work on strategic foresight, as a potential means of addressing the Future of Customs agenda. Under this item, the PTC heard a number of insightful presentations relating to disruptive technologies, including on the Blockchain technology pilots in the EU.

Most of the Committee meeting items were devoted to follow-up actions, including on cooperation with railway organizations. The Committee achieved progress on the discussions relating to data requirements and movement of goods in transit.

Furthermore, the PTC provided guidance in the areas of E-Commerce and product identification. Committee’s inputs were collected on the draft Joint WCO/UPU Guidelines for the Exchange of Electronic Advance Data Between Posts and Customs, as well as on the draft Guidance on the Customs’ Role in Collection of Indirect Taxes.

The PTC discussed a paper submitted by the International Container Bureau (BIC) on the challenges the industry is facing when it comes to Customs treatment of innovative solutions, including tracking devices, used in containerized trade. This discussion was also relevant in the context of exploring the use of E-Seals, brought forward by the SAFE Working Group.

The PTC was updated on the work on Special Customs Zones, on Natural Disaster Relief, as well as on Facilitation Performance Measurement and the Time Release Study. Further guidance was provided to the Secretariat regarding the engagement with the World Bank Group on the Doing Business survey.

The outcomes of this very fruitful Committee meeting will feed into the Policy Commission discussions in early December, especially on the topics of small island economies, the Economic Competitiveness Package and its Action Plan for Phase IV, as well as on the future of WCO Working Group on the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. The PTC provided the Policy Commission also with guidance on a more general matter relating to the reporting format of the WCO working bodies.

Lastly, the PTC unanimously elected Ms. Gordana Vidanovic (Serbia) as its Vice-Chairperson. The next meeting of the PTC will be held from 5 to 8 March 2019.