WCO/PSCG jointly conducted a session at the WTO Public Forum 2022 on disruptive technologies and e-commerce

30 September 2022

One of World Trade Organization (WTO)’s largest annual outreach events, the Public Forum is taking place this year from 27 to 30 September 2022 at the WTO Headquarters in Geneva. The event has brought together some 3200 representatives from civil society, academia, business, the media, government, parliamentarians and inter-governmental organizations and about 670 speakers in over 140 sessions. 

The WCO has been playing an active role in the WTO Public Forum for the past several years by organizing working sessions, providing speakers and sharing information, with the aim of raising the profile of Customs and its relevance in cross-border trade.

This year’s Public Forum titled, "Towards a sustainable and inclusive recovery: ambition to action" is looking at how trade can contribute to the post-pandemic economic recovery. The Forum examines in particular how trade rules can be strengthened, and government policies improved, to create a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive trading system. In that context, on the first day of the Public Forum, the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the WCO Private Sector Consultative Group (PSCG) jointly organized a working session dedicated to the prominent role of disruptive technologies and e-commerce for an inclusive post-pandemic recovery; the Customs perspective.

The panel was comprised of speakers from Customs, the WTO and the private sector, and focused on e-commerce, public-private sector partnerships, disruptive technologies and data from the Customs perspective.
WCO Deputy Secretary General Ricardo Treviño Chapa shared his insight on WCO instruments and tools in the area of e-commerce, the importance of trust between the public and private sector, the new WCO Data Strategy, the role of innovative technologies and data analytics in the WCO Strategic Plan. Suja Rishikesh Mavroidis, Director of the Market Access Division at the WTO, talked about the WTO’s work in the area of e-commerce, the importance of simplification, modernization and harmonization of Customs procedures, specifically for the SMEs, the importance of the Single Window, the role of NCTFs for public-private sector cooperation, and the importance of the interoperability and data sharing. Patricia Lungu, Deputy Commissioner, Operations, Customs Services Division of the Zambia Revenue Authority, discussed ongoing projects regarding data exchange with neighboring Customs administrations, the positive outcomes of the public-private sector cooperation in Zambia, the challenges in with data analytics and data mining, including the lack of a data analytics framework, the lack of IT infrastructure, data quality and data governance issues. And finally, Brenda Smith, Global Director, Government Outreach at Expeditors International, spoke about the cooperation between the WCO and the PSCG, the key lessons learned from the pandemic, the importance of WCO tools such as the SAFE FoS, Single Window to facilitate complaint trade, the importance of data for risk management, strategic decisions and compliance regimes. The session was moderated by Norbert Kouwenhoven, Special Advisor Strategy and Innovation, Customs Administration of the Netherlands.
Around 100 participants attended this in-person joint session.

It is noteworthy to highlight the enormous interest received from the audience that asked about a range of issues, including the quality of data and how the WCO is dealing with the concerns related to this issue, as well as how data exchange between Customs administrations could decrease the duplication of required documents from the private sector perspective.

The Deputy Secretary General also invited the audience to join the Online Joint WCO-WTO Launch of the Study Report on Disruptive Technologies which will take place on Monday, 3 October 2022 at 2:00-3:30 pm (Brussels/Geneva time).  

The recording of the session is available here.