Working Group on E-Commerce makes another stride forward on Cross-Border E-Commerce

15 October 2018

Following the adoption of the Framework of Standards on Cross-Border E-Commerce by the June 2018 Policy Commission and Council, the Working Group on E-Commerce (WGEC) held its 4th meeting at the WCO headquarters in Brussels from 8 to 12 October 2018 that brought together over 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.  

The Framework provides 15 baseline global standards with a focus on the exchange of advance electronic data for effective risk management and enhanced facilitation of growing volumes of cross-border small and low-value Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C) shipments through simplified procedures with respect to areas such as clearance, revenue collection and return, in close partnership with e-commerce stakeholders. It also encourages the use of non-intrusive inspection (NII) equipment, data analytics and other cutting-edge technologies to support safe, secure and sustainable cross-border E-Commerce.

This meeting was aimed at consolidating the ongoing work and carrying out further work on the identified items as per the WGEC’ Work Plan, such as ‘Technical Specifications’, ‘Definitions’, ‘E-Commerce Flow Charts’, ‘Data Elements’, ‘Revenue Collection Models’, ‘E-Commerce Business Models’ and ‘Roles and Responsibilities of E-Commerce Stakeholders’ with a view to further enriching the Framework of Standards for its effective implementation..

In her opening remarks, Ms. Ana B. Hinojosa, WCO Director Compliance and Facilitation said that policymakers need to react to create flexible, forward-looking and integrated policy and operational responses that are holistic and effective, as E-Commerce business models driven by technology continue to develop rapidly. She noted the urgency to effectively deal with this growing volume of cross-border E-Commerce through the enhancement and implementation of the Framework of Standards and associated tools.

The newly elected Customs-Chairperson Mr. Mike Leahy (Canada) and the private sector Chairperson Ms. Marianne Rowden (the Private Sector Consultative Group) outlined the priorities and work programme of the WGEC and encouraged delegates actively engage and provide inputs for completing all of the outstanding work by June 2019.

Through a week-long meeting, delegates examined and further developed various documents in a constructive and collaborative manner that led to the finalization of draft Technical Specifications for each of the standards of the Framework; definition of some of the key terms, in particular ‘Cross-Border E-Commerce’; Revenue Collection Models; and Roles and Responsibilities of E-Commerce Stakeholders. The Group also reflected on Flow Charts (e.g., postal clearance, courier clearance, data flows, and return process) and corresponding data elements and agreed to continue work intersessionally with an aim to identifying data elements that are unique and specific to E-Commerce to address associated challenges and risks, while referencing to existing standards for already defined relevant datasets such as those contained the SAFE Framework of Standards and the Immediate Release Guidelines.

The WGEC also discussed a draft implementation strategy and action plan along with capacity building mechanisms for harmonized and expeditious implementation of the Framework, based on national and regional needs and imperatives.

Going forward, the WGEC agreed to continue further work, as required, on some of the outstanding items intersessionally through respective groups by engaging all Members and relevant stakeholders.