On 17 November, at the invitation of the Word Bank, Vienna University Global Tax Policy Center, and Ernst & Young, the WCO participated in a virtual seminar on “Transforming Tax Administrations: Roadmap for Full Digitalization and Implementation Challenges”.
The WCO representative, Mr. Pranab Kumar Das, Director of the WCO Compliance and Facilitation Directorate, elaborated on the opportunities for Customs to leverage Blockchain to enable Customs administrations to take part in end-to-end integrated supply chain management and obtain, store, process and share digital records and information in a more safe, transparent and trustworthy manner. The domains of Customs operations, where Blockchain could be applied, include collection of information for Customs declaration, exchange of data between Customs and other government agencies, electronic certification/verification of regulatory requirements, implementation of free trade agreements, implementation of AEO-MRA, transit, identity management, revenue collection, compliance management, and post clearance audit among others.
Customs is still experimenting with Blockchain and around a third of WCO Members are testing its application through proofs of concept (PoCs) and pilot projects. There are challenges to Customs’ application of blockchain, e.g., complexities in balancing between Blockchain and other technologies, lack of standards for using Blockchain to monitor international trade, lack of mechanisms for guiding the government agencies and the private sector to cooperate and coordinate on the Blockchain platform. It is important to clearly define the roles, responsibilities, levels of access, and rights and obligations for each party on the Blockchain platform; develop policies and regulatory frameworks that are aligned with the emerging challenges brought by Blockchain; and enhance cooperation between stakeholders to foster transparent, immutable, and accessible data ecosystem for the development and use of Blockchain.
During the seminar, Mr. Das also shared some WCO Members’ best practices in applying Blockchain to certain Customs operations, as collected from the WCO Annual Consolidated Survey 2021. The best practices will be illustrated in the forthcoming WCO-WTO joint study report on Customs Use of Advanced Technologies to Facilitate and Secure Cross-Border Trade.