The World Customs Organization (WCO), representing 182 Customs Administrations across the globe, recently released the final Report on Cross- border E-Commerce, which highlights the challenges and potential solutions in view of facilitating cross-border low-value e-commerce worldwide.
According to the Report, harmonizing cross-border flow processes, including Customs, is even more essential nowadays in the fast growing e-commerce sector. Current practices on trade facilitation (§6) show a lack of standardized electronic procedures as well as of readily available information on the rules and regulations in place. The uniform implementation of digital systems based on “prior to arrival information” may provide traders and Customs with several opportunities for improving clearance and delivery processes.
Risk management (§22) for low-value e-commerce shipments is still highly manual, resource-intensive and performed in real-time at the border. Also in this respect, the creation of a “Single Window”, as a unified IT platform for “one-stop lodging of pre-shipment information”, appears essential in order to facilitate trade declaration and Customs clearance by ensuring more transparency and better risk assessment in a faster clearance time.
As far as data exchange (§34) is concerned, more cooperation is needed between Customs and e-commerce operators, which may implement advance electronic data systems by means of bilateral or multilateral agreements (such as Memorandums of Understanding).
Procedural standardization and digitalisation are essential also for the efficiency of controls and enforcement activities (§48) that have become increasingly difficult due to the large volumes of e-commerce shipments.
Finally, on revenue collection (§60) the Report highlights the need to implement electronic systems allowing the pre-arrival assessment of duties and/or taxes. In this respect are pointed out as examples the initiatives currently examined by the EU with regard to the advance collection mechanisms for VAT and Customs duties through the European Mini-One-Stop-Shops (MOSS).