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WCO Working Group on ECommerce moves closer to providing new deliverables in the coming months

13 octubre 2017

Close to 200 delegates attended the second meeting of the WCO Working Group on E-Commerce (WGEC), held at WCO headquarters in Brussels from 10 to 13 October 2017, with the aim of taking stock of the work done since the first meeting and moving forward in developing tools and instruments related to the management of growing cross-border transactions stemming from E-Commerce sales.

The delegates represented a broad variety of stakeholders, including Customs administrations, other government agencies, and partner international organizations. They were joined by representatives of the postal and express service industry, e-vendors, e-commerce platforms, logistics service providers, Customs brokers, technology service providers, and academia. 

As a reminder, further discussions took place between the first and second meetings of the WGEC, within four Sub-Groups focusing, respectively, on Trade Facilitation and Simplification of Procedures; Safety and Security; Revenue Collection; and Measurement and Analysis. Each Sub-Group, which met separately again during the WGEC’s second meeting , further developed recommendations, collecting and disseminating best practices and initiatives, and enhancing/updating related WCO instruments and tools.

Based on a survey among its Members, a Study Report on Cross-Border E-Commerce, which analyses how Customs administrations process cross-border e-commerce transactions, as well as country-specific best practices and case studies have already been developed and published on the WCO e-commerce web page together with all other e-commerce related information. A number of case studies based on the national best practices and initiatives in the area of E-Commerce have also been published.

As a result of the most recent work of the WGEC and its four Sub-Groups, the following tools and instruments have been developed and are expected to be released in the coming months :

  • A Resolution on cross-border E-Commerce which advocates the for establishing an E-Commerce framework of standards based on the following key principles of cross-border E-Commerce: Advance Electronic Data and Risk Management, Facilitation and Simplification, Safety and Security, Revenue Collection, Measurement and Analysis, Partnerships, Public Awareness, Outreach, Capacity Building, and Legislative Frameworks.  
  • A Communiqué on E-Commerce, outlining the international Customs community’s position, which is expected to be sent to delegates attending the Eleventh Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization that will take place from 10 to 13 December 2017.  
  • A WCO framework of standards on Cross-Border E-Commerce that will consolidate the outcomes of various ongoing work-streams and provide guidelines and practical approaches for each of the principles mentioned in the Recommendation, including good working examples to implement them. 
  • An updated version of the Immediate Release Guidelines, which provide guidance to both Customs and the trade on expediting the cross-border release/clearance increasing volumes of low-value and small E-Commerce shipments/parcels.

These tools and instruments will be examined in further detail at the WCO Permanent Technical Committee sessions in October and the Policy Commission session in December this year for their potential adoption. Based on this, further work will be carried out to leading to the adoption of an E-Commerce Package by the WCO Council in June 2018.The global implementation of these tools in the future will be key in order to effectively respond to needs and challenges emanating from the fast-evolving internet trade environment.

During the meeting, delegates also discussed how data generated through online sales and captured by e-vendors/e-platforms can be shared with Customs and other relevant authorities. It was agreed that the WGEC will continue work on the exchange of information between various E-Commerce operators including e-vendors/e-platforms and Customs and will identify the data requirements with a view to standardizing them and developing associated messaging processes/protocols. The WGEC also reflected on the need of joining forces by all stakeholders to strengthen the ongoing efforts for bridging the ‘digital divide’.