Customs administrations examine business opportunities in post office

Hameed Ali, Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service

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, customs .

This was made known by Mr. Philippe Kokou. B. Tchodic, Commissioner General of OTR and Mr. Kwadzo Dzodzn Kwasi, Director General of Togo Poste at a just concluded joint-workshop organised by the World Customs Orgdanisation (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.

Other issues that were discussed in detail included the RKC Specific Annex J, Chapter 2 on Postal Traffic, E-Commerce (e.g., processing of small and low-value parcels, screening and risk management methodologies, de minimis, and revenue collection), data capture and compliance to Customs requirements (e.g. data quality) at the origin, the implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA), Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) status for postal operators, and mapping the WCO SAFE Framework Standards to the UPU security standards S58 and S59.

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 Workshop enhanced participants’ knowledge of the relevant WCO and UPU instruments and tools in terms of strengthening existing cooperative relationships between Customs and postal operators at the national level, in particular the electronic exchange of advance information in the e-commerce context. Participants acknowledged the importance of the Workshop that provided, among others, a common platform to discuss issues of mutual interest and explore potential solutions at the regional level in achieving shared objectives, besides learning from each other’s working examples and good practices

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).

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