Arola takes part into Greenlane, an association of trade lawyers focused on Customs Law, International Trade and Indirect Taxation. At least once a year, Greenlane organizes a meeting about a trendy topic. This year 2019 has been the moment of e-Commerce & Customs. The place wherein it took place, Liège (Belgium), was not chosen randomly. Liège is becoming a leading e-commerce hub for companies distributing their products both inside and outside Europe, which has been reinforced by the arrival of Alibaba.
After a short presentation of Greenlane by Mr. Yves Melin, lawyer and associate at the Belgium law firm Steptoe (founding member of Greenlane), the conferences began.
First speakers (Mr. Bernard Piette, Logistics in Wallonia; and Mr. Bert Sélis, Liège Aiport) told us about Liège’s and Belgium’s good location and infrastructures to continuing with the development in the area. It was also remarked the fast growth of Liège airport, totally focused on air cargo, and how helpful it could be for companies planning to land in Europe.
The second speaker, Mr. Stephan Pire (eCommerce solutions) highlighted the fantastic growth of E-commerce and revealed, with accurate information, who the principle players, platforms and trends on e-Commerce are.
The next panel comprised three keynote speakers addressing Customs & Low Value Consignments. E-Commerce represents a challenge not only for businesses but also for Customs Authorities, that would need to facilitate commerce but without ignoring its surveillance functions. Ms. Alina Mitrea (DG TAXUD at the European Commission) explained us how the EC VAT Directive package affect e-Commerce and what the main issues for customs implementation are. Mr. Pashupati Pandey (World Customs Organization) laid out which are the risks that WCO has identified regarding this new scenario and how are they facing them by adopting a risk approach based on advance electronic information. Finally, Walter van der Meiren (UPS) focused on the impact on e-Commerce of the VAT Directive package from a practical angle.
The second panel performed an overall review of the control at the border of regulatory compliance, and the EU’s draft compliance enforcement regulation. Mr. Aurélien Letawe (Liège Airport) emphasized the major labor that Customs Surveillance and Detection Services made at airports, particularly at Liège Airport since the overwhelming growth of parcels shipped there. Carrying on with this topic, Mr. Jan Deconinck (Belgian Ministry of Economy) explained us which are the public measures applied by Belgian authorities (extensible to other MS authorities) in order to guarantee safety and security for EU customers on its online importations. After them, Mr. Christophe Roeland (European Commission) talked about future regulation on market surveillance and product compliance in which the EC is working on. This regulation should improve compliance, strengthen market surveillance and controls at external borders.
The third panel of the seminar was titled “e-Commerce & China”, considering the specific weight of the Asian giant on this type of transactions. Mr. Weijian Shao (Mission of China to the EU) exposed the new regulations in China regarding e-Commerce. Chinese regulations on customs established a simplified scheme for e-Commerce vendors and platforms, that applies over several goods. Later on, Mr. Raymond Ren (DeHeng Law Office) and Mr. Zhou Yong (JunHe Law Office) gave us a practical approach for EU businesses that would like to become distance sellers in China.
Eventually, our Legal Manager, Mr. Víctor Guarch, made a presentation about e-Commerce for Excise Duty goods. Mr. Guarch tabled the burdens and costs for distance sellers due to current EU regulation on Excise Duties.
The participation in this exclusive network allows Arola to connect with the latest news and trends worldwide regarding Customs Law and Taxation on International Trade, which finally leads into unbeatable integral advisory services for its clients. There is a proverb that says: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. And Greenlane and Arola want to go far.