Terms of reference for the Working Group on E-Commerce

Approved by the Policy Commission - July 2016 and June 2018

Confirmed by the Council - July 2016 and June 2018

Chairpersons: Co-chaired by a representative of a WCO Member administration and a representative of the Private Sector

Established: July 2016

Duration: Until June 2019

1. Mandate

The Working Group on E-Commerce (WGEC) is established for the purpose of addressing cross-cutting issues in relation to growing e-commerce, from both a facilitation and a control perspective.  It will be guided by and report to the Permanent Technical Committee, the Enforcement Committee and the Policy Commission.
The WGEC will operate at two levels:

(i) policy matters, guided by and reporting to the Policy Commission; and (ii) technical matters, guided by and reporting to the Permanent Technical Committee and the Enforcement Committee in matters within their respective competence.

2. Membership

The WGEC will be comprised of all interested Members of the WCO, partner international organizations such as the OECD, WTO and UPU, the Private Sector Consultative Group (PSCG), other stakeholders with recognized WCO observer status, e-commerce supply chain actors (e.g., e-vendors, e-market platforms, financial intermediaries) and academia.

3. Purpose and Scope

The purpose and scope of the WGEC is to discuss all relevant issues around
e-commerce and come up with proposals for practical solutions for the clearance of low-value shipments, including appropriate duty/tax collection mechanisms and control procedures that will facilitate and encourage the growth of e-commerce for the benefit of economic and social development.

The WGEC shall advise, as appropriate, the Policy Commission, the Permanent Technical Committee, the Enforcement Committee and the Secretary General on specific issues concerning cross-border e-commerce.  Such issues may include, but are not limited to, the following :

  • Cross-Border E-Commerce Flows - Study and analyse growing cross-border business-to-consumer (B2C) and consumer-to-consumer (C2C) volumes, trends and issues stemming therefrom;
  • Business Models - Carry out research and mapping of different e-commerce business models to enhance understanding, and to provide policy guidance and a response to the emerging needs and requirements of the international supply chain;
  • Facilitation - Suggest measures for facilitating growing cross-border e-commerce, while ensuring proper compliance with regulatory requirements, including the potential review/updating of related WCO instruments and tools, for example the WCO Immediate Release Guidelines;
  • Safety and Security - Identify means to address potential vulnerabilities in the e-commerce supply chain in terms of the smuggling of arms/explosives, prohibited/restricted goods, drugs, CITES protected species, cultural objects and counterfeit goods, as well as other financial crimes, e.g., illicit financial flows, money laundering;
  • Revenue Collection - Deliberate on challenges (e.g., de minimis, splitting/under-invoicing/misdeclaration of shipments, classification, origin, data quality), and suggest potential solutions, including the possible applicability of alternate models of revenue collection (e.g., vendor collection model, intermediary collection model) in the Customs environment;
  • Risk Management - Suggest measures to strengthen risk management, including the potential connectivity and exchange of information between Customs and e-commerce stakeholders/economic operators, e.g., e-vendors, postal operators, express service providers, online payment services, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and improving Data Quality in B2C and C2C e-commerce transactions; and
  • Best Practices - Collect and disseminate best practices of Members and businesses in the area of cross-border e-commerce.

4. Key Deliverables

The key deliverables of the WGEC are to:

  • explore, evaluate and suggest relevant actions and measures at both policy and technical levels for enhanced facilitation and effective control in relation to cross-border e-commerce;
  • develop guidelines/frameworks, as appropriate, on identified issues relating to cross-border e-commerce;
  • collect and disseminate practices in the management of cross-border e-commerce; and
  • submit regular reports on its work, with concrete proposals and recommendations, to the Permanent Technical Committee, Enforcement Committee and Policy Commission for their respective consideration, endorsement and policy guidance, as appropriate.

5. Means of Operation

Members of the WGEC will elect the Co-Chairpersons for a one-year term from among the Members and private sector representatives, respectively.  The outgoing Chairpersons will be eligible for re-election.

Required tasks will be carried out in periodic meetings, as necessary, and presided over by the designated Co-Chairpersons.

The WGEC will carry out intersessional work virtually, facilitated by its Co-Chairpersons through the WCO CLiKC! platform.

The WGEC will normally conduct its work in English and French.

The WCO Secretariat, in consultation with the Co-Chairpersons, may on occasion extend an invitation to any relevant experts or organizations as required, including for consultations, contributions and/or presentations.

The WCO Secretariat will provide the necessary support.