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On 15 February 2023, the World Customs Organization (“WCO“) hosted a Symposium on E-Commerce and Customs Valuation. Several key challenges were identified:

  • the fragmentation in the system due to data overload from low level shipments;
  • the consequent shortfalls within data systems and processing; and
  • compliance and enforcement challenges.  

The sessions provided a high level overview from the WCO and World Trade Organization (“WTO“) of the current scope of challenges and questions to consider, and featured substantive presentations on the challenges faced by national Customs Authorities (including the European Commission, the CBP and Indian Customs) with input from the private sector in navigating the rapidly growing cross-border e-commerce trade.

Interestingly, the ICC’s working group identified four principal issues as regards e-commerce and the novel challenges it presents the customs community with. A priority for the ICC is to accelerate the digitalisation of custom processes and the digital trading environment, for e-invoices, e-bills of lading and the like. This goes hand in hand with the generalisation of post-clearance audits on customs valuation for e-commerce parcels. The ICC has its eye on the valuation treatment of parcels transferred between two facilities without sale located in two different customs territories (i.e. transfer of inventory), as well as the valuation treatment of goods returned by the e-consumer. The discussions were fruitful in producing a number of solutions. In an attempt to reduce the amount of data produced, a de minimis customs clearance was proposed so as to increase value thresholds to exclude small value shipments. It was also suggested that simplified entries should be implemented with reduced data fields as well as the adoption of greater digitization and standardised data requirements across jurisdictions. It is also hoped that there could be greater collaboration between private entities, freight forwarders and customs authorities on post-clearance audits.

Author

Lionel joined Baker McKenzie as customs lead in February 2022. He has over 23 years of experience in the field of customs, international trade, excises and energy levy. Lionel is lecturer at the UIA (Antwerp) and ULG (Liege). He is in charge of the customs, excises and international trade course at the Solvay Tax MBA.
In 2023, Lionel was appointed by the Global ICC board as Chair of the ICC Global Customs Valuation Working Group.
Lionel is also chairing the Indirect Taxes subcommitee of AMCHAM BE.
Lionel's Indirect Tax practice team has been recognized as Tier 1 Indirect Tax Team in Belgium by ITR World Tax.

Author

Thomas Kukanza joined Baker McKenzie as a senior trade advisor in the Tax Practice Group in April 2022. He has over 10 years of experience in customs and international trade and in the implementation of duty optimization programs. Thomas is a guest lecturer at the University of Antwerp and holds a US customs broker licence.

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