Request for services – Readiness factor assessment consultant – Cambodia
Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation/Swisscontact
The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation (the Alliance) is a public-private partnership for trade-led growth, supporting governments in developing and least-developed countries in implementing the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement. Alliance projects cut through red tape and end costly delays at borders by bringing together governments and businesses of all sizes as equal partners to deliver targeted trade reforms.
The Alliance is led by the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), the International Chamber of Commerce, and the World Economic Forum, in cooperation with Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). It is funded by the governments of the United States, Canada, Germany, Denmark, and Australia.
The Alliance, through Swisscontact, will be implementing a project to improve small package e-Trade for SMEs in Cambodia. The project will be implemented in collaboration with the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE), Ministry of Economy and Finance, Cambodia. The overall objective of the SeT4SME project is to support Cambodia for an improved trade performance and inclusive growth in the country through enhancing trade facilitation implementation with improved transparency in trade practices and reduced time and cost of cross-border e-trade. The main collaborators are Cambodia Post, Cambodia Women Entrepreneurs Association (CWEA), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Universal Postal Union (UPU), Ministry of Commerce (MOC) and selected other private entities. The project will support in progress of Cambodia’s commitment under World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA), specifically Art. 7.1 on Pre-Arrival Processing and Art. 8.2 on Border Agency Cooperation – both of which are under Category C which implies the need for technical assistance. It also contributes to further enhancing Risk Management and the availability of information through the internet which are currently Category A measures.
The project’s specific objective is two folds; (1) contribute to Cambodia’s undertaking of digital trade facilitation through development and deployment of Electronic Advance Data (EAD); and (2) strengthen Cambodia’s cross-border e-Trade environment for SMEs, by establishing an e-trade one-stop service portal (hereafter referred to as “e-trade portal”) and helping Cambodia’s SMEs to take full advantage of an improved customs clearance process of postal consignment.
The project entails two technical workstreams:
Workstream 1: Institutional Capacity Support for EAD Implementation. The objective is to develop a fully operational EAD by interfacing and integration of GDCE’s ASYCUDA and Cambodia Post’s Customs Declaration System (CDS). The workstream features complementary interventions such as awareness-raising, capacity development, and PR support, etc. before and after the deployment of EAD. This workstream also envisages the coordination and capacity development support to the Cambodia Post for expanding strategic partnerships with other operators to enhance its mail and logistics capacity for the small package delivery.
Workstream 2: e-Trade Portal Development and Promotion. The objective is to enhance Cambodian SMEs’ presence online and their engagement in cross-border e-trade, particularly the exports of their products in small packages, taking full advantage of the enhanced postal logistic capacity and expedited customs clearance procedures of postal items supported under Workstream 1. It also aims to create ‘champions’ and ‘early adopters’ of cross-border e-commerce among SMEs through collaborative activities with SME associations and establish an integrated e-Trade Portal to provide trade-related information in user-friendly and interactive formats alongside a wide-range of e-trade service packages to promote small package exports by Cambodian SMEs.
Assignment and Objectives
The planned assignment is part of Workstream 1, which aims to assist the GDCE and Cambodia Post in conducting baseline and end-state study of the EAD implementation.
SMEs are the backbone of the Cambodian economy, representing 99% of the country’s private sector, and women-led businesses account for 65% of all SMEs. However, SME’s only account for 10% of Cambodia’s exports. This shows the significance of SMEs is not reflected in their engagement in cross-border trade. The efforts to engage SMEs better in the cross-border trade has also brought women-owned businesses (WOBs) into public policy attention.
The Cambodia Trade Integration Strategy (CTIS) 2019-2023 highlights the importance of women in trade and calls for increased mainstreaming of women empowerment in trade and business development policies. In fact, the Cambodia Trade Integration Strategy Update (CTISU 2019-2023) – as it is meant to be mainstreamed through the Rectangular Strategy IV and Vision 2030, to serve as a basis for the design of the New National Strategic Development Plan (2019-23), and to guide the work of the RGC – offers a favourable window of opportunity for the RGC and all stakeholders and partners involved to further promote Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, and especially Women’s Economic Empowerment through investing in increasing women’s share in the regional and national trade and national income and thus to embrace this win-win strategy for the society, economy, private businesses and individuals.
SMEs and WOBs generally find the Customs clearance process daunting and complex, and often struggle to find information about the prevailing regulations and the applicable tariffs. Most of the times, the existing source of information is not adequately transparent and not made easily digestible to SMEs and WOBs. This is even more evident regarding the complexity of rules and regulations around export as well as cost and fee structure of cross-border shipments.
While the basic information on export as well as import can be obtained through various government agencies, business associations and other online resources etc., businesses in general and specifically, SMEs often face the following problems:
Difficulties in assessing upfront fee structure of the shipments through an express company. They get to know the final shipping amounts only at the time of shipping. Sometimes that amount is higher than the one anticipated and agreed with overseas clients, resulting in financial losses to the exporter SME. SMEs also need to go to different sources to gain different information on an ad-hoc basis. Most of them rely on information received from personal networks or from the association that they belong to. SMEs are unsure of which HS code to enter in the system, while providing information. Hence this increases the errors while filling in the forms and frustrates the SMEs. Business associations have their own challenges, and they are unable to offer the needed information services. Because of inadequate information on customs rules and regulations, small e-traders generally find the related procedures overly burdensome, i.e., documentation requirements and customs inspections of the package.
Given the global surge in cross-border e-commerce, Cambodia Post and GDCE want to make trade in small packages easier, faster, and more cost-efficient to unlock the potential of this enormous market for local SMEs and WOBs.
This trade facilitation support aims to also promote gender equality by ensuring it goes together with improved economic empowerment for women as entrepreneurs and employees. While the project is expected to enhance the e-trade opportunities for SMEs in overall, it takes fully into account the fact that 65% of SMEs are run by women. It specifically takes into consideration that CWEA with over 680 members, is the biggest business association representing women business owners in Cambodia. It thus ensures that support is targeted toward assisting them in providing needed support for their SME members to participate better in the global e-trade and benefit from the improved customs clearance procedures of postal shipments supported under Workstream 1 as well as through the developed e-trade portal that provides trade-related information in user-friendly and interactive formats alongside a wide-range of e-trade service packages.
Assignment and Objectives
To that end, Swisscontact is looking for a Phnom Penh-based international or national consultant to carry out assessment of the current and future capacity development needs of Cambodian Women Entrepreneurs Association (CWEA) and SMEs (CWEA and non-CWEA members), with a view to recommend ways to develop their capacity to become cross-border e-commerce champions. The assessment primarily aims to identify the “readiness” requirements and formulate needed capacity building response to CWEA, enabling them to implement the development and operation of e-trade portal solution for small package exports and scale up the service to benefit other Cambodian SMEs. The assessment will look across different important aspects including vision, desire and willingness, strategic planning and partners, collaboration with government, sponsorship and leadership, governance, funding, IT capacity to execute, existing IT adoption, and other related ability for the implementation and operation of e-trade portal service solution.
Planning and framework development as well as mapping process exercise of related stakeholders and services around trade-related information and e-commerce solution shall be undertaken before the full-scale assessment. This will ensure the project can identify potential capacity needs, and also where capacity exists for cross-learning. Two specific outputs with proposed 4 key activities are to be delivered by the consultant as part of this assignment, as per the following proposed period.
Output1: Planning and Mapping Exercise
1. Develop a readiness assessment plan and framework
2. Mapping process exercise of related stakeholders and currently existing and emerging services, including the e-marketplace under Go4eCam project
Output 2: Assessment and Reporting
3. Use the agreed plan and framework to assess different important aspects of CWEA and selected SMEs members, including vision, desire and willingness, strategic planning and partners, collaboration with government, sponsorship and leadership, governance, funding, IT capacity to execute, existing IT adoption, and other related ability for the implementation and operation of e-trade portal service solution.
4. Drafting and finalizing of the findings and recommendations in form of a “Readiness Factor” Assessment Report, highlighting the “readiness” requirements and capacity building response to CWEA to enable them to implement the development and operation of e-trade portal solution for small package exports and scale up the service to benefit other Cambodian SMEs.
Details on how these work results will be produced shall be elaborated by the consultant as part of the submitted
technical proposal. A proposal of 16 expert days for the assignment shall be used as a basis of calculation for the
financial offer. The consultant will work in close coordination and cooperation with CWEA and their SME members,
GDCE, Cambodia Post, Swisscontact team, and other related parties to implement this assignment.
Duration and deliverables
The timeframe for the contract is from 19 July 2021 – 15 October 2021 with the following deliverables due by the
|Under Output 1: Baseline Assessment
• Assessment plan and framework
• Mapping of related stakeholders and services
|• 30 July 2021
• 13 August 2021
|Under Output 2: End-state Assessment
• “Readiness Factor” Assessment Report
|• 17 September 2021|
- Education: Master’s (or equivalent) in Political Science, Economics, International Trade, Business, or related
- Language: professional proficiency in English (reading, writing, speaking, listening)
- General professional experience: 10 years of work experience in international trade, trade facilitation, private
sector development, regional integration
- Specific professional experience: 10 years of work experience at the national or international level in the
context of e-Trade Readiness Assessments
- Leadership/management experience: 10 years of work experience as lead advisor/expert in trade- or eTrade related assignments
- Regional experience: Good understanding of political and economic context of Cambodia / ASEAN per previous related assignments
- Development Cooperation (DC) experience: Prior experience in donor-funded assignments
Applications (in English) should be directed to Swisscontact until 14 July 2021. Interested applicants are requested to submit a proposal of 16 expert days for the assignment shall be used as a basis of calculation for the financial offer, work plan, CVs with roles and responsibilities and cover letter detailing the consultant’s suitability for the assignment.
Application(s) should be directed to: