The World Customs Organization (WCO) has released a report on e-commerce that compiles its member-customs administrations’ practices as well as their ongoing or future initiatives in processing cross-border low-value e-commerce.
Current practices, issues, and challenges as well as initiatives and potential solutions are presented in the “WCO Study Report on Cross-Border E-Commerce,” as are case studies to illustrate specific practices.
In coming up with the report, WCO said, “The number of people having access to the Internet is growing exponentially. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are continuously providing new business and consumer opportunities. E-commerce—the trade in goods and services via the Internet—is increasingly becoming the platform that businesses (including SMEs) use to access global markets when starting up. Existing businesses too are exploiting new opportunities.”
The report is divided into the following sections: facilitation, risk management, data exchange/cooperation with e-commerce operators, control and enforcement, and revenue collection.
The survey was undertaken as part of the WCO work plan on cross-border e-commerce aimed at addressing cross-cutting issues in e-commerce. The work plan also intends to come up with practical solutions for the facilitated clearance of low-value shipments, including appropriate duty or tax collection mechanisms and control procedures.
Members’ responses have indicated a pattern of challenges experienced by customs administrations across the globe, said the report.
“The continuous increase in online trading has raised questions regarding regulation, consumer protection, revenue collection and national security, just to name a few. These questions cannot be dealt with individually but require a common, broad approach by the international Customs community, together with all relevant stakeholders as a whole.”
It added that facilitating the growth of e-commerce will ensure economic development and innovation. “Providing the right environment for e-commerce businesses to operate in is fundamental to their success and sustainability. Harmonizing low-value e-commerce flow processes, including Customs and other regulatory requirements across borders, will support further evolution of e-commerce,” it said.