Permanent Technical Committee advances latest trade facilitation topics

28 October 2021

The 233rd/234th Sessions of the Permanent Technical Committee (PTC) were held from 11 October to 27 October 2021 with almost 270 delegates taking part. The meeting was launched with a week-long document-based phase held through the WCO CLiKC! platform and finalized with a three-day online session.

In his opening remarks, the Director of Compliance and Facilitation, Mr. Pranab Kumar Das, expressed his appreciation to all the  delegates joining the meeting, including from observer organizations, emphasizing that the views and input from the private sector, as well as from other international organizations, are critical for achieving quality products and tools for trade facilitation. He recalled the PTC’s key role in addressing all WCO trade facilitation matters, including on e-commerce, information technologies and the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), especially after the closing of the related working bodies.

The PTC followed up on a number of items such as an update on the results of the WCO’s Annual Consolidated Survey 2021 on National Committees on Trade Facilitation (NCTFs), Passenger Facilitation and Control, Time Release Study (TRS) software, Customs-Port Cooperation to accelerate digitalization and provided guidance. The Performance Measurement agenda item was discussed at length after an oral report on the outcomes of the 4th meeting of the Working Group on Performance Management (WGPM) held on 7 and 8 October 2021. The PTC commended the work of the WGPM to date and fully supported extending its mandate for one year, subject to consideration of an appropriate business case.

The role of Customs in mitigating the effects of COVID-19 pandemic was discussed in-depth. The PTC took note of the progress made in providing guidance to Members in view of facilitating the cross-border movement of COVID-19 vaccines, vaccine inputs and components, and in implementing the WCO COVID-19 Action Plan. In concluding this item, the PTC endorsed the updated version of the WCO Guidelines on Disaster Management and Supply Chain Continuity.

The WCO Railway Guidance was endorsed, while the PTC noted that the harmonized railway transit dataset will remain in a draft form while Members and the Secretariat continue work to finalize it.  Members that have not yet shared their rail datasets were encouraged to share them to help advance this work.  The PTC also took note of the progress made in the area of cross-border e-commerce, discussed the progress with regard to the first periodic review of the E-Commerce Package, including the compiling of proposals and the outcomes of the first series of informal ad hoc meetings held in September 2021 to discuss the review proposals and provided guidance with regard to progressing the review work with a view to finalizing the review process at the Spring 2022 PTC.

Further discussions were held on the role of Customs in fostering Circular Economy (CE) and reverse supply chains. Delegates acknowledged the value of learning from other international institutions and environmental agencies in considering the role that Customs might play in this field and welcomed the WCO Secretariat and Members engagement on this issue.

The Committee further endorsed the nominated Members of the Advanced Passenger Information (API)/ Passenger Name Record (PNR) Contact Committee, and discussed the membership requirements of the API/PNR Contact Committee, as outlined in the Terms of Reference. The PTC welcomed interested Members to consult the Secretariat in the inter-session on options for expanding the WCO membership of the Contact Committee. 

The PTC further endorsed the Guide for Technical update of Preferential Rules of Origin to capture the Harmonized System 2022. The Committee also endorsed the updated Terms of Reference of the Data Model Projects Team (DMPT) and supported the product marketing plan for growth of Version 4 of the WCO Data Model, while providing further guidance on how to enhance it. 

The next meeting of the PTC is scheduled for the week of 25 April 2022.