Ground laid for new professional development opportunities for customs clearing agents

A new licensing framework for customs clearing agents has been agreed in Zambia, marking the end of phase one of a project aimed at making trade simpler, faster and more cost-effective.

The project, which is being led by the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation and the Zambia Revenue Authority, is designing and introducing new training and licensing procedures for customs clearing agents. Soon, agents will be able to access a professional training course that will help them further their knowledge and skills in facilitating fast clearance and transit of goods across Zambia’s borders.

Customs clearing agents are a vital cog in the machine of international trade and investing in their professional development is part of Zambia’s mission to create a better business environment where trade can flourish, supporting inclusive economic growth.

The new licensing framework is a result of a fruitful public-private partnership. Government and businesses have worked hand in hand to agree on the new arrangements: examining the existing processes for obtaining a custom broker license, assessing existing gaps, and studying international best practices. As part of a knowledge exchange organised by the Alliance, a delegation of Zambian project partners spent a week in the United States exploring the role of their counterparts in the U.S. and identifying best practices that would inform the design of the new licensing framework in Zambia.

The project team is now working on finalising the training curriculum and the exam, due to be rolled out in summer 2020. The training course will be delivered by qualified trainers and will combine practical, hands-on training with e-learning. A scholarship fund will be available to support agents with the costs involved. After completing the course, candidates will sit an exam to demonstrate their proficiency.

Well-trained customs clearing agents will play a vital role in ensuring that goods keep moving smoothly across Zambia’s borders, reducing physical inspections and errors in classification, origin or valuation to a minimum. It is hoped that the opportunity for professional development will also help to make customs clearing an attractive profession to the next generation of Zambian graduates.