The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation (the Alliance) is a public-private delivery mechanism created to support effective implementation of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (“TFA”) through partnerships between governments and private sector. The Alliance is a cooperative effort funded by the governments of the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Germany, Australia, and Denmark. The Alliance Secretariat is composed of the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC-WBO), and the World Economic Forum (WEF), with Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) as implementing partner.
CIPE, on behalf of the Alliance, is in the process of implementing a project to modernize the framework for the licensing of customs clearing agents in Malawi. Because clearing agents serve as the intermediary between the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA or Customs) and traders, a well-functioning border relies heavily upon brokers’ knowledge, professionalism, and integrity. Both the private sector and the Government of Malawi have underscored substantial concerns about the current licensing system and its negative impacts on trade in the country.
In particular, the Government has expressed its concern about the lack of knowledge and understanding of the duties and responsibilities by clearing agents. The Malawi Revenue Authority has officially estimated that the number of licensed clearing agents is around 104, while two major clearing agent associations say the number is around 115. This is a relatively high number considering the small scale of operations where some clearing agents do not declare more than one declaration per day. The entry requirement into the profession is relatively low, relying mainly on a simple personal capital requirement of US $131. Malawi does not currently utilize a mechanism, such as an examination, to evaluate the competency of clearing agent applicants. Clearing agent training has also lapsed in the country, resulting in highly inconsistent levels of technical expertise and know-how.
The overall objective of this project, therefore, is to support Malawi to design and implement a modern, equitable, robust and fit-for-purpose clearing agents licensing framework. The Alliance will conduct the project through a gender lens to ensure that women derive the same benefits as their male counterparts. After the completion of the project, it is expected that:
- Malawi has a body of highly qualified, trained and efficient customs brokers who are able to facilitate faster clearance and transit of goods across Malawi’s
- The government has an efficient and sustainable customs broker licensing framework
- Malawi will have implemented a fundamental and transformative category “C” commitment of the TFA, thereby boosting economic growth and reducing poverty.
The Alliance launched the project in January 2019 and will implement the project over a period of 24 months in three phases:
- Improving the framework (Completed August 2020) – During this phase, the Alliance has assessed all elements for a modern clearing agents’ framework to create a clear roadmap for the creation of a licensing system that incorporates a training course and an examination.
- Development of exam and training (6 months, currently underway since October 2020) – The new framework envisions two major parts: a training course, and (2) a subsequent compulsory examination for existing and prospective clearing agents. This phase will develop such training course in association with MRA, the clearing agent association(s), and the broader private sector including those outfits identified to lead training and exam implementation.
- Implementation of training and examination (6 months) – The examination and training will be a new condition introduced into an existing established industry. The project will gradually phase them in to avoid disruption.
The project will directly support Malawi in implementing Article 10.6.3 of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which Malawi has determined to be a “Category C” commitment. This article states “[w]ith regard to the licensing of customs brokers, Members shall apply rules that are transparent and objective.”
To support the implementation of the project, the Alliance wishes to hire the services of a local Project Coordinator who will work closely and cooperatively with the Malawi Revenue Authority, the project’s working group, and the rest of the Alliance team to ensure timely and adequate implementation of phase II and phase III of the project.
2. GENERAL OBJECTIVES
The objective of this position is to provide local coordination and day-to-day management of project activities to ensure the successful and efficient implementation of phases II and III of the “Modernization of Customs Clearing Agent Licensing” project.
3. SCOPE OF WORK
The position’s activities shall include, but are not limited to the following:
- Providing management services to facilitate the day-to-day implementation of the Project in Malawi in accordance with the Alliance’s goals;
- Coordinating Project activities and liaising with Malawi government officials, private sector stakeholders, and relevant non-government organizations;
- Coordinating with CIPE management and CIPE technical consultants on the implementation of the program and developing strategic plans;
- Providing support as the Alliance Secretariat to the Project Working Group, organizing and convening monthly public-private meetings
- Supporting regular missions from CIPE project management and international technical experts;
- Meeting with visiting delegations from private and public stakeholders supporting the Project’s implementation;
- Nurturing and maintaining relationships with other World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement-related programs in Malawi; and
- Coordinating with the Alliance Monitoring and Evaluation officers in the collection and analysis of data on the progress and implementation of the Project.
4. SPECIFIC ACTIVITIES
It is expected that the consultant will conduct, as a minimum, the following activities:
- Arrange consultations with the private sector throughout the execution of the project.
- Provide technical and logistical support to any individual consultant or consulting firm hired during the implementation of the project.
- Prepare monthly and quarterly progress reports highlighting the activities conducted, challenges faced, propose solutions, and monthly and quarterly objectives.
- Support the development of terms of reference for the activities identified in the project plan.
- Prepare, maintain and follow up on meeting minutes.
- Participate in evaluation committees to evaluate technical and financial proposals as needed.
- Co-lead project review exercises designed to adjust, organize and streamline project procedures/schedules/plans, highlighting the activities that will impact on project implementation.
- Monitor progress on all deliverables and outputs identified in the project.
- Ensure effective coordination between MRA, private sector representatives from CAFAAM, ICCAFA and the Alliance team, and any individual consultant and consulting firm hired during the implementation of the project.
- Participate in regular project evaluation and review meetings to identify current and future bottlenecks/challenges/risks and to develop and initiate resolutions.
- Document all changes requested to project scope, schedule, and budget.
5. DURATION OF ASSIGNMENT
The duration of the contract is one (1) year full time with the possibility to extend for an additional 6 months depending on performance and project status. Applicants that are only available part-time will be considered on a case-by-case basis as well. Expected start date: Immediate.
6. REPORTING ARRANGEMENTS
The selected candidate will report to CIPE’s Senior Program Officer for Trade. The candidate will also work closely with the Chair of the Project Working Group.
7. ADMINISTRATIVE AND LOGISTICAL ARRANGEMENTS
- Candidates should already reside in or around Blantyre,
- Office space will not be provided by CIPE
- Meeting space for monthly Project Working Group meetings will be provided on a rotational basis by the members of the Project Working Group in Blantyre, Malawi
8. PAYMENT SCHEDULE
For the performance of duties outlined in this Terms of Reference, the consultant will be paid monthly.
9. TECHNICAL PROFILE OF CANDIDATE
Minimum Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Economics, Business, IT or another relevant
- At least 5 years demonstrated experience in trade or public sector reform
- At least 5 years demonstrated experience in donor-funded project implementation and coordination
- Previous experience working for or with the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA)
- Familiarity with the Customs Clearing Agent industry and the role and responsibilities of a Customs Clearing Agent
- Previous experience in project monitoring and evaluation (M&E)
- Sound working knowledge of project management techniques, tools and
- Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite
- Experience working both independently and, in a team-oriented, collaborative environment is essential
- Strong written and oral communication skills in English
To apply for this opportunity, please send a resume, cover letter and a filled out copy of USAID Form 1420-17 in PDF format to CIPE Senior Program Officer, Florent Bakija: firstname.lastname@example.org by 5:00pm Eastern Standard Time, 25 November, 2020. Include in the subject line: “GATF Project Coordinator – [NAME]”. Any and all questions should be communicated in written form before the due date above to the email addresses: email@example.com. All responses will be publicly available at cipe.org.
11. EVALUATION METHODOLOGY
Evaluation of an applicant’s suitability for this consultancy will be based on the applicant’s technical background as provided on the resume and cover letter as well as the applicant’s financial requirements as stipulated in USAID Form 1420-17.