Customs administrations in West and Central Africa have examined the business opportunities in the growing e-commerce and postal exchange.
For the Customs administrations to fully leverage the potential of the fast growing e-commerce and to mitigate associated threats/risks in terms of security, safety and revenue collection, there must be enhancement in regulatory frameworks, simplifying customs and posts procedures, and establishing information exchange between posts and customs.
This was the position of Commissioner General of OTR, Philippe Kokou. B. Tchodic and Director General of Togo Poste, Kwadzo Dzodzn Kwasi, at a just concluded joint-workshop organised by the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU) for countries in the sub region on the exchange of information between post and Customs and e-commerce in Togo.
After explaining all the relevant WCO and UPU instruments and tools, WCO and UPU experts described practical steps along with case studies to implement the exchange of electronic advance data (EAD) between Posts and Customs by using the joint WCO-UPU standards/guidelines and related IT solutions such as the UPU’s Customs Declaration System (CDS), for an effective risk management and improved service delivery of rapidly growing postal parcels in the e-commerce environment.
Concerning the cooperation between Customs and Posts at the national level, participants examined various means to foster greater cooperation, especially through establishing/enhancing a memorandum of understanding in line with the ‘Joint WCO-UPU guidelines for developing a memorandum of understanding between Customs and post at the national level.’
The participants reviewed the current national situation with respect to the exchange of information between post and Customs and potential ways forward for each of the participating counties, based on the information regarding postal-Customs clearance process and envisaged future plans shared by respective Customs and postal officials.
In addition, China Customs also shared its experiences particularly recent initiatives to deal with the exponentially increasing cross-border e-commerce, using electronic advance data and various smart inspection/detection equipment.
The Joint Workshop was attended by over 70 participants representing Customs administrations and postal operators from 23 countries of the WCA Region (Burundi, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo (Republic of the), Comoros, Gabon, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sao Tome and Principe, and Togo.