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WCO highlights its E-Commerce work at the UNCTAD eCommerce Week

08 abril 2019

At the invitation of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the WCO participated in the UNCTAD eCommerce Week held from 1 to 5 April 2019. The UNCTAD eCommerce Week is an annual gathering that brought together over 1200 leading E-Commerce policy makers and officials, international organizations and private sector stakeholders, development banks, academia and civil society from around the world.

The WCO organized a panel session on “Global standards for efficient, sustainable and inclusive cross-border E-Commerce”.  This panel comprising Mr. Mike Leahy (Canada Border Services Agency), Mr. Victor do Prado (WTO), Mr. Norm Schenk (ICC), Mr. Dietmar Jost (GEA) and Mr. Lati Matata (UPU), moderated by Mrs. Ana B. Hinojosa (WCO Director), reflected on the strategic imperatives for global standards on cross-border E-Commerce for providing harmonization and predictability across jurisdictions for the private sector on one hand and fulfilling the aspirations of consumers and governments on the other hand.

To that end, the WCO Framework of Standards on Cross-Border E-Commerce was noted as a positive development towards providing pragmatic solutions for a seamless cross-border flow of ever-increasing parcels, while tackling some of the associated challenges such as safety and security, revenue collection and other regulatory compliance. The Framework provides baseline global standards and addresses the physical aspects of E-Commerce for creating/supporting a safe, secure and sustainable cross-border E-Commerce environment; the Framework provides sufficient flexibility for adapting to domestic conditions and specificities.

Panelists acknowledged the ongoing collaboration between the WCO and the WTO in the area of E-Commerce, when addressing issues falling under respective domains. It was also noted that the WCO Framework of Standards on Cross-Border E-Commerce and associated work could complement the ongoing discussion and the envisaged work at the WTO on E-Commerce.  Furthermore, the existing WTO agreements including the Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA) and the UPU Standards and initiatives for postal modernization that could support E-Commerce were equally underlined.

The panel also emphasized the importance of political will, inclusiveness, and level-playing field by establishing and implementing simplified border clearance procedures and, in appropriate cases, account-based border management, particularly for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) that are disproportionally disadvantaged. In this context, the increasing role of intermediaries to help MSMEs and buyers/consumers meeting the regulatory compliance and border clearance procedures was also highlighted.

In addition, the WCO joined and shared its perspective at two other panel sessions namely : ‘Measuring e-commerce workshop’ and ‘Promoting reforms to ensure developing countries harness the benefits of e-commerce: zooming in on the role “de minimis” regimes’.

Furthermore, the WCO also participated in several sessions, particularly a High-level Dialogue on the topic: From Digitalization to Development and the third Session of Intergovernmental Group of Experts on E-commerce and the Digital Economy. A number of bilateral meetings were held with international organizations and other stakeholders (such as UNCTAD, IATA, ISO, WEF) to explore opportunities for further collaboration.

Under the theme “From Digitalization to Development”, this year’s edition of the eCommerce Week, in particular, emphasized the need to break down silos among institutions, government and policy areas for an effective contribution of E-Commerce towards sustainable development.