WCO to unveil norms for e-commerce trade:

WCO to unveil norms for e-commerce trade:


Customs body aims to address digital, illegal trade


  • The World Customs Organization (WCO) will soon bring out guidelines on ‘cross-border e-commerce’, which will focus on preventing illegal trade as well as addressing the challenges stemming from the ‘digital divide’, according to the WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya.

Focus areas

  • WCO will address issues related to digital divide by looking into what is blocking e-commerce trade, and what kind of enabling environment is needed to support developing countries so that they benefit more from e-commerce.
  • The new guideline would include provisions to prevent illegal trade and illicit financial flows
  • This would be ensured through measures that would help strengthen information exchange between Customs administrations of countries as well as collaboration with other government a
  •   It will be a “game changer” in global trade that is benefiting small firms and consumers.

Working groups:

  •  The WCO has a Working Group on e-Commerce and four sub-groups.
  • To develop guidelines on cross-border e-commerce, the work packages identified are- Trade facilitation and simplification of procedures, Safety and security, revenue collection and measurement and analyis.
  • According to UN body ‘UNCTAD’, the value of online trade jumped from $ 16 trillion to $ 22 trillion between 2013 and 2015.
  • According to WCO’s Study Report on Cross-Border E-Commerce, the continuous increase in online trading has raised questions regarding regulations, consumer protection, revenue collection and national security.

Key points:

  • The WCO highlighted that more sophisticated equipment was needed to combat illicit trading through low-value shipments in postal, express and cargo streams
  •  Pre-arrival information on the consignment and the consignee could be of great importance in detecting and intercepting illicit trade.
  • The improvement of non-intrusive inspection equipment and increase in the number of trained staff could help to enhance the detection rate of illicit goods.
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