Members of the WCO North of Africa, Near and Middle East (MENA) region discuss challenges and solutions in the cross-border e-commerce environment

01 October 2021

From 27 to 30 September 2021, the World Customs Organization (WCO) delivered an Online Regional Workshop on Cross-Border E-Commerce for the North of Africa, Near and Middle East (MENA) region. The event was hosted by the General Authority of Qatar Customs who also provided interpretation and the web-conferencing platform for the workshop. Close to 100 experts from 15 Member Customs administrations, as well as from designated postal operators from the MENA region, shared their experience, along with the information and insights expounded by the workshop facilitators and speakers from the Universal Postal Union, the Global Express Association, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and Alibaba Group.

Opening remarks were provided by Mr. Mohammed Abdullah Almaadeed, Assistant President of the General Authority of Qatar Customs and Mr. Ricardo Treviño Chapa, Deputy Secretary General of the WCO who highlighted the opportunities and challenges presented by the ever-growing volumes of e-commerce parcels and the importance of effective and harmonised implementation of the WCO Framework of Standards on Cross-Border E-Commerce (E-Commerce FoS).

Over the four days of the regional workshop, the workshop facilitators highlighted the 15 standards of the WCO E-Commerce FoS and the tools available to support their implementation. Each workshop session benefitted from presentations by Members (Bahrain, Dubai, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Qatar and Saudi Arabia), partner international organizations and private sector entities. The workshop sessions provided practical examples of E-Commerce FoS implementation in areas such as use of Advance Electronic Data, data exchange with postal operators, simplified procedures for low-value shipments, and revenue collection, including valuation and Post Clearance Audit. Other interesting topics discussed were cooperation with stakeholders such as marketplaces, fulfilment centers and free zones/warehouses, expanding the concept of Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) to e-commerce stakeholders, and the use of advanced technologies.

The MENA region is the fifth WCO region to benefit from a regional workshop aimed at raising awareness of the WCO E-Commerce FoS and the steps for its implementation, as well as at promoting regional cooperation.

In closing the workshop, the WCO Director for Compliance and Facilitation, Mr. Pranab Kumar Das, thanked Members for sharing their experiences and insights as these are very useful for the future WCO work in the area of cross-border e-commerce. In turn, the Director of Training and Regional Coordinator for Capacity Building at Qatar Customs, Mr. Mubarak Ibrahim ALboainin, acknowledged the prominent role of the WCO in enhancing the capacities of Members in the MENA region.