Customs clearing agents in Zambia are to be offered accredited training as part of a new trade facilitation project being launched today by the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) and the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation (Alliance).
Over the next two years the project will see the ZRA, customs clearing agents associations, training institutions and local and international businesses that trade in Zambia work together to design and introduce a new framework for licensing customs clearing agents.
Customs clearing agents will be able to access a professional course delivered by qualified trainers, combining practical, hands-on training with e-learning. They will then sit an exam, allowing them to demonstrate their competence in applying ZRA regulations and the Harmonized Tariff Schedule.
The first round of training is likely to be made available in mid-2020. It will be designed to maximise accessibility, particularly for women who are often not able to spend long periods of time away from home, and will be phased in over an adjustment period to ensure agents have time to become licensed. A scholarship fund will also be made available to support agents with the costs of obtaining the new license and women will be actively encouraged to become licensed.
The project is the result of several months of collaboration between the ZRA and the private sector to identify the challenges faced by traders moving goods across Zambia’s borders. It will support Zambia’s plans to implement the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and increase the competitiveness of Zambian industry.
Speaking at the launch, where the ZRA and the Alliance signed a Memorandum of Understanding, Philippe Isler, Director of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, said: “Clearing agents play a vital role in cross-border trade, helping traders to navigate the documentation required to import and export. Providing access to proper training and accreditation will allow agents to enhance their professional skills, reducing errors in documentation, the need for physical inspections and ultimately the time and cost of trade for business. It will also deliver efficiency gains for the ZRA.”
The project in Zambia becomes the ninth in the Alliance’s portfolio of work to support developing and least developed countries implement the TFA through the public and private sectors working together.
Kingsley Chanda, Commissioner General of the Zambia Revenue Authority, said: “I firmly believe that modernisation of the Customs Clearing Agents Licensing Framework will assist agents in Zambia to improve their skills and understanding of modern customs operations. It is also expected that these reforms will contribute to improving trade facilitation and thereby reduce the cost of cross-border trade”.
The Commissioner General went on to say that the reforms will help to build capacity amongst clearing agents and assist in raising standards in the industry.
Philippe Isler, said: “The Zambia Revenue Authority is doing a huge amount to modernise customs operations and improve the trade facilitation environment here, and crucially it is taking a forward-thinking approach in working with the private sector as an equal partner.
“We look forward to continuing to support the ZRA and the country’s private sector over the next two years and to seeing the impact of the project, not just in up-skilling the customs clearing agent community and reducing the cost of trade in Zambia, but also contributing to the country’s wider economic and social development.”
Find out more about the project here.