MRA project to make trade in Malawi simpler, faster and more cost effective

Customs Clearing Agents in Malawi are to be offered accredited training as part of a new trade facilitation project being launched on Tuesday 2 December 2019 by the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) and the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation.

Global Alliance and MRA offering accredited training as part of a new trade facilitation project
Group photo by MRA and Global Alliance

The project will introduce a new licensing framework for clearing agents, complete with a training course and examination to ensure that they have the knowledge and skills they need to facilitate trade efficiently and in line with Customs regulations in Malawi.

The course will combine 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 training will be compulsory for all Customs Clearing Agents operating in Malawi. The first round of training is expected to be made available in late 2020. The new requirements will be phased in over an adjustment period to give agents adequate time to become licensed and a scholarship fund will be made available to help cover the costs involved.

The project will see MRA working alongside the Clearing and Forwarding Agents’ Association of Malawi (CAFAAM) and the Indigenous Customs Clearing and Forwarding Agents Association (ICCFAA) as well as the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) and a host of local and international businesses.

The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, an initiative working specifically to help countries implement the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), will manage the project and provide technical support.

The project will support Malawi in its efforts to implement the TFA, which it ratified in 2017, and increase the competitiveness of Malawian industry.

Speaking at the launch in Blantyre, where the MRA and Alliance signed a Memorandum of Understanding, Philippe Isler, Director of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, said customs clearing agents are crucial.

“We know that Customs Clearing Agents are a vital cog in the machine of international trade but that there is currently little proper training available to help them acquire all the knowledge and skills they need. This is a profession that has an important role to play in Malawi’s economic growth in the coming years.

“Proper training and accreditation can ensure that documentation is error-free, that traders pay the correct fees and that goods keep moving smoothly and efficiently across borders. Not only will that make trade more cost-effective for both customs and businesses, but it can also help make Malawi more attractive for investment and help create a level playing field for Malawi businesses where competing goods are subject to the same regulations and fees,” Isler said.

The project in Malawi becomes the tenth 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.

The Alliance is already working to introduce a similar licensing framework for Customs Clearing Agents in neighbouring Zambia and teams from both projects will collaborate closely to ensure knowledge and resources are shared.

Tom Malata, Commissioner General of the Malawi Revenue Authority, said the project will boost trade in Malawi.

“We are excited to partner with the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation to enhance capacity of our clearing agents in Malawi. Through this partnership, clearing agents will have the technical know how to handle customs matters effectively which will bring about a ripple effect on achieving excellence in service delivery, trade facilitation and maximisation of tax revenue for national development,” said Malata.

Philippe Isler, said: “Our colleagues at the Malawi Revenue Authority are doing a huge amount to modernise Customs operations and create a better environment for trade, working closely alongside business. We look forward to working with them over the next two years to introduce this new framework and unlock the wider economic benefits for Malawi.”

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