From September 21st to 23rd 2016, the World Customs Organization (WCO) held its 1st E-Commerce Working Group at their headquarters in Brussels. TIACA attended together with 175 delegates representing a broad variety of the involved and affected stakeholders, ranging from Customs, International Organizations, representatives of the postal and express service industries, to e-vendors, e-commerce platforms, and online payment providers.
The goal was to discuss in a constructive and open way the opportunities and the challenges which lie ahead with the growing trade in e-commerce, in particular, cross-border low-value business-to-consumer (B2C) and consumer-to-consumer (C2C) shipments. These topics were discussed from both trade facilitation and a control perspective.
The agenda for the three days was quite ambitious, and the presentations and discussions provided a wealth of information on data and statistics, forecasting, and the cross border barriers for e-traders and consumers.
Representatives from all over, including those from postal and express industry outlined the short lifecycle of an e-commerce shipment and the linked challenges. E-commerce platforms providers presented their business models, their roles and responsibilities, and reviewed the potential opportunities related to a direct data exchange between e-commerce actors and Customs administrations in order to enhance data quality, but also for risk management capacities.
Customs administrations addressed the legal and regulatory framework. They also addressed the issues related to advance electronic data for postal items to enable risk assessment and better fraud detection, along with an appropriate import clearance system for E-Commerce shipments. New and modern facilities for those items, including the needed technology were also identified as a key area of need. Another area which was stressed was how to cooperate with other regulatory agencies to ensure effective controls.
In addition topics like a new the revenue collection model relative to the de minimis threshold where reviewed and addressed. Further topics included the criminal aspects like the illegal use of the Internet, via the dark net, have been identified, including available guidance, existing tools and investigation tools.
Finally there was a common understanding that there is a lack of harmonization in the low-value shipment process, the need for digitalization of processes, the need for innovative solutions to be developed in order to capture better information from importers and e-commerce intermediaries in particular, to enable better risk assessment.
We will continue to keep you advised as the next steps are taken to develop workgroups and strategies to address these issues, including several in which TIACA will participate.