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Symposium on E-Commerce and Customs Valuation

Date de début 15 février 2023
Date de fin 15 février 2023
Lieu Hybrid (Online / WCO Headquarters, Brussels)






Session 2

Session 3


The objective of this symposium is to expose how the development of trade through E‑Commerce is impacting on the Customs valuation of imported goods. In this symposium, we will hear about the challenges being faced by Customs and the initiatives taken and being developed to ensure effective control and collection of duties and taxes at the border. In addition, the private sector will share its challenges in its work with Customs related to this phenomenon.

E-Commerce volumes have grown significantly and rapidly in recent years. In this symposium, we consider what are the impacts of this on Customs valuation at the border.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the global value of E-Commerce sales (B2B and B2C) reached almost USD 26.7 trillion in 2019, corresponding to about 30% of GDP[1]. The proportion of cross-border E-Commerce, boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic, is constantly increasing and the trend is expected to last in the years to come.

In addition to changing the volume of transaction, the impact of E-Commerce has also resulted in a shift of who is involved in cross-border transactions. E-Commerce has favoured a shift in international marketing channels from mainly Business to Business (B2B) large consignments to a large percentage of Business to Consumer (B2C), and even Consumer to Consumer (C2C), transactions, involving small consignments.

Although E-Commerce offers a great potential for consumers and traders, especially small traders, in 2021, retail E-Commerce sales amounted to approximately USD 4.9 trillion worldwide, it presents significant challenges throughout the transaction chain with financial and non-financial risks inherent to the nature of E-Commerce imports.

Many of these risks relate to the large volume of trade in small parcels created by E-Commerce, giving the potential to overwhelm the Customs of the importing country and posing particular challenges for human resources and Customs clearance efficiency. Customs control approaches such as on-site document verification and post clearance audit may also encounter difficulties, especially in B2C and C2C scenarios.

However, it should also be noted that E-Commerce is associated with “Data rich” and “Data-driven.” More intermediaries are likely to be involved in E-Commerce transactions such as E-Commerce platforms, payment systems and companies involved in the physical delivery of goods, which adds to the data possibilities and enables Customs to obtain data which might not be available in traditional transactions. Moreover, Customs has been looking at ways to enhance data accuracy and quality by using advanced technology such as block chain, which could, with its immutable feature and distributed architecture, help bring different supply chain stakeholders together and increase the reliability of data for supporting Customs supervision.

To address the revenue risks while still ensuring the flow of international trade, it is vital to reinforce the cooperation between Customs and the E-Commerce stakeholders, such as online marketplaces and platforms for compliance purposes, just as the collaboration between Customs and other authorities is necessary to address non-fiscal requirements such as safety and security risks.

The WCO is working on examining the customs collection systems for E-Commerce (fiscal aspects) and on identifying innovative customs control approaches for E-Commerce imports (non-fiscal aspects).

To do this effectively, wide conversations are needed to understand the impacts, difficulties, opportunities, and the current and proposed ways of adapting to the changes that E‑Commerce has created. This symposium is part of that dialogue and we invite you to take part.

DATE AND TIME: 15 February 2023, 12:00 -15:30 CET.

ATTENDEES: The symposium is open to public with a view to encourage active engagement of Customs administrations, IGOs, private sector, as well as academia on this topic.

FORMAT: The symposium will be held in a hybrid format.

REGISTRATION: Attendees may choose to attend in-person at the WCO Headquarters in Brussels or online when registering.

LANGUAGES: English and French.

For additional information, please contact Mr. Luximan Babajee at Luximan.Babajee@wcoomd.org and Mr. Jiabin LUO at Jiabin.Luo@wcoomd.org or at valuation@wcoomd.org.

[1] UNCTAD, “Estimates of Global E-Commerce 2019 and Preliminary Assessment of Covid-19 Impact on Online Retail 2020”, UNCTAD Technical Notes on ICT for Development No 18, p. 4