International knowledge exchange to help improve ease of trade with Zambia

A delegation of Zambian government officials and business leaders is in the United States this week as part of a project to make trade with Zambia 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 introducing new training and licensing procedures for customs clearing agents in Zambia. The 14-strong delegation is spending one week talking to government and business representatives about the role of customs clearing agents in the U.S.

Washington, D.C., USA, 7 June 2019 – A delegation of Zambian government officials and business leaders is in the United States this week as part of a project to make trade with Zambia simpler, faster and more cost effective.

The project, which is being led by the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation (the Alliance) and the Zambia Revenue Authority, is introducing new training and licensing procedures for customs clearing agents in Zambia. From mid-2020 existing and prospective agents will be able to access a professional training course delivered by qualified trainers to help them facilitate faster clearance and transit of goods across the country’s borders.

The 14-strong delegation is spending one week talking to government and business representatives about the role of customs clearing agents in the U.S. The visit includes meetings with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the National Customs Broker and Forwarder Association of America and the International Federation of Customs Brokers Associations among others.

The delegation is also visiting the Port of Detroit to see first-hand how customs brokers operate at the border and cooperate closely with both U.S. and Canadian border agencies.

The business community has been central to organising the visit and sharing its knowledge of working with customs clearing agents around the world is a key part of the project. The knowledge exchange will help to identify best practices and will inform the design of the new licensing process and training course.

The course will combine practical, hands-on training with e-learning and will be designed to maximise accessibility, particularly for women who are often not able to spend long periods of time away from home. The new licensing arrangements will be phased in over an adjustment period to ensure agents have time to become licensed and a scholarship fund will be made available to support with the costs of obtaining the new license.

John Mumba, Chair of the Zambia Customs and Forwarding Agents Association, who was part of the delegation, said: “As key stakeholders in the development of Zambia’s economy, we are delighted to be part of this tour. We recognise the extremely close collaboration, mutual respect, and common goals between U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the National Customs Broker and Forwarder Association of America, and how that contributes positively to the development of the U.S. economy.

“The standards required for clearing agents are nothing short of professional. The Alliance project in Zambia will help the revenue authority seal revenue leaks and provide the best trade facilitation model for the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and ultimately Africa as a whole. We are privileged to be the flagship nation for this programme.”

Beatrice Kalumbu Lukama Kachinda, Senior Collector at the Zambia Revenue Authority and also part of the delegation, said: “It is important that both the private and public sector players involved in trade logistics and customs clearing develop expertise in their respective fields. Developing a national training curriculum for clearing agents will go a long way in building on clearing agents’ knowledge and skills and in facilitating cross-border trade in Zambia.”

The Alliance is a not-for-profit venture which brings together governments and businesses as equal partners to identify trade facilitation issues, such as delays and unnecessary red tape at borders, and implement targeted reforms to address them. It was set up to help governments implement the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which Zambia ratified in 2015, and to encourage sustainable development and poverty reduction. The project will help Zambia’s National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) in its work to drive forward Zambia’s TFA implementation.

Patricia Maunda Mwale Mwela, Secretariat Trade Facilitation Specialist at Zambia’s National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC), said: “The Zambian government recognises the private sector as a partner in pushing the trade facilitation agenda forward. Our commitment to trade facilitation is based on understanding that the benefits to business arising from our full implementation of the TFA will not only create efficiencies at our borders but also contribute to economic growth. In a land-linked country like Zambia a knowledgeable customs clearing agent sector will not only be a driver of revenue collection but also contribute to reducing the costs of doing business. The public-private sector collaboration we have witnessed in the U.S. is something we believe we can emulate as part of our commitment to modernising all the systems related to customs brokerage training, licensing, operations and accreditation.”

Philippe Isler, Director of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, said: “Since launching the project in January 2019 the project team of public sector and business representatives have been working side by side to shape the new licensing arrangements. This week’s delegation is an important milestone and will ensure that the new process benefits from international best practices. I would like to extend my thanks to all those from government agencies and business who have been part of the knowledge exchange. As we reflect on the learnings from this delegation in the coming weeks, we remain on track to deliver professional development for Zambia’s clearing agent community, and in the longer term support increased trade that will fuel inclusive economic growth in Zambia.”

 

 

PICTURE 1: Zambian trade facilitation delegation

PICTURE 2: Zambian delegation visits Port of Detroit