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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.


Lionel has joined Baker McKenzie as Customs Lead in February 2022. Lionel has 20+ years of experience in the field of Customs, International Trade, Excises & Energy Levy. Lionel is lecturer at the UIA (Antwerp) & ULG (Liege). He is in charge of the Customs, Excises & International Trade Course at the Solvay Tax MBA.


Thomas Kukanza is a Senior Trade Advisor in Baker McKenzie, Brussels office.

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