WCO and OECD move ahead with their anti-corruption agenda

On 20 and 21 March 2019, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) hosted the 7th OECD Global Anti-Corruption and Integrity Forum at its Headquarters in Paris, with the theme “Tech for Trust”.  Among the topics discussed were the ways that blockchain, big data analytics, artificial intelligence and other new technologies are transforming how governments, business and society operate.  The 2019 Forum focused on the risks and opportunities of new technologies for anti-corruption and integrity, while new insights related to trade, foreign bribery, competition and development cooperation also featured in the discussions.

In the margins of the Forum, the WCO Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Ricardo Treviño Chapa, participated in the panel discussions on the “parcels trade”, which generates new opportunities for consumers to access more diversified products and for firms of all sizes and locations to expand their customer reach.  The Deputy Secretary General addressed the issue on the opportunities and challenges of the “parcels trade” from a Customs perspective.

The discussions highlighted the growth in the “parcels trade”, leading to challenges for cross-border regulatory agencies due to the tremendous increase in the number of small e-packages; the balance that needs to be maintained between enforcement and facilitation objectives; the distinction that needs to be drawn between parcels for personal and commercial use; the protection of intellectual property rights; the lack of accurate data and the need for standardization; the absence of a global legal framework; and the need for coordination between cross-border regulatory agencies and tax authorities.

In this respect, the WCO Deputy Secretary General informed the audience about the WCO Framework of Standards on Cross-Border E-Commerce setting out 15 baseline global standards on/approaches to cross-border E-Commerce, with a view to providing pragmatic, fair and innovative solutions whilst taking into account the diverse expectations and concerns of Customs administrations and stakeholders.  Mr. Ricardo Treviño Chapa stressed the importance of multi-stakeholder engagement while elaborating on the Framework of Standards, whose development had brought on board representatives from governments, the private sector and international organizations as well as E-Commerce stakeholders and academia.  The Framework of Standards has been acknowledged as an important starting point for multilateral discussions.

The WCO also participated in the Plenary Meeting of the OECD’s Anti-Corruption Network (ACN) for Eastern Europe and Central Asia held from 20 to 22 March 2019.  The ACN brings together national governments from over 20 Eastern European and Central Asian countries along with the OECD Member governments, civil society, business representatives and international organizations.  The ACN programme supports beneficiary countries with anti-corruption activities, exchange of information, development of best practices and donor coordination.  It also comprises a peer review monitoring mechanism on implementation of the Istanbul Anti-Corruption Action Plan (IAP).

The ACN Steering Group Meeting discussed and agreed on the principles of the 2020-2024 Work Programme introducing new methodology aimed at streamlining the scope of monitoring, introducing standard performance indicators and specifying benchmarks for assessment of countries, and improving the progress update procedure to serve as an effective tool for exerting pressure.

During the ACN Plenary Meeting, the WCO provided an update on its current activities, future work and technical support in anti-corruption and integrity development along with an update on the recent initiative to establish a comprehensive performance measurement tool.  The ACN expressed an interest in having the WCO participate and share its experience during the process of developing and adopting relevant performance indicators at both national and regional levels as part of the IAP’s upcoming fifth round of monitoring.

The Deputy Secretary General also met with the OECD´s Director for Public Governance to discuss the status of the ongoing cooperation between the two Organizations, including planned joint projects on Customs-related topics as well as cooperation in the area of integrity and anti-corruption, based on the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2016.  They both agreed to take the joint work forward.