During the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC11) in Buenos Aires, to which the WCO Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, was invited as a Special Guest, the WCO and the Federal Administration of Public Revenue (AFIP) of Argentina jointly organized a round table session on «E-Commerce: Game changer for Customs, Trade and Consumers» at the AFIP building on 11 December 2017.
After the opening remarks by Dr. Alberto Abad, Federal Administrator of AFIP, Secretary General Mikuriya described the work done by the WCO Working Group on E-Commerce and the resulting Luxor Resolution on the Guiding Principles for Cross-Border E-Commerce, adopted by the Policy Commission in Luxor last week. He also referred to the Communication from the International Customs Community on Cross-Border E-Commerce addressed to the MC11, and circulated among WCO Members.
The round table, moderated by Dr. Mikuriya, heard the views of Customs, represented by Mr. Diego Dávila, AFIP’s Director General of Customs, and Mr. Xiangyang Sun, Deputy Director of Ningbo Customs in China and Co-Chair of the WCO Working Group on E-Commerce, as well as of the E-Platform, represented by Mr. Jacobo Cohen Imach, Vice-President of Mercado Libre, Mr. David Roth, Head of International Public Policy — Amazon, and Ms. Lin Luo, Deputy Director of International Government and Public Affairs — Alibaba Group, and also from logistics services, represented by Mr. Carlos Grau Tanner, Director General — Global Express Association and Mr. Harald Weyerich, Director of the Postal Technology Centre — Universal Postal Union.
The speakers at the round table provided useful insights into the rapid development of E-Commerce, as well as its challenges and opportunities, and interacted with participants. They suggested that Customs and businesses should embrace E-Commerce and the opportunities it offers in the spirit of innovation and collaboration, and use the available WCO tools to simplify the process. Dr. Mikuriya shared the way forward for the WCO, including the development of a framework of standards, and the organization of the Global Cross-border E-Commerce Conference in China next February, and clarified the complementary and supportive nature of the work by both the WCO and the WTO on E-Commerce. The round table was brought to a close by Mr. Mitsunari Okamoto, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan.
In the margins of the MC11, Secretary General Mikuriya also participated in the launch, by the International Trade Centre (ITC), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), of the Global Trade Help Desk. This Help Desk is a multi-agency initiative to enhance trade transparency for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). Dr. Mikuriya expressed his support for this initiative, and the WCO’s willingness to work with other stakeholders in further developing the Help Desk. He additionally indicated that the WCO is currently working with the ITC on a joint Origin Database covering preferential rules of origin in Free Trade Agreements.