USAID/Timor-Leste requested that the Integra LEAP III team conduct an assessment on the customs sector in Timor-Leste and provide technical recommendations for assistance. Phase I of this assessment built upon a 2016 USAID assessment and examined the current operational capacity of the Customs Administration and associated stakeholders in the international trade chain to determine adherence to (1) the World Customs Organization (WCO) Revised Kyoto Convention and the Framework of Standards to secure and facilitate Global Trade; (2) the WCO Revised Arusha Declaration; and (3) the Operation of the National Trade Information Portal. The team also recommended further technical assistance that may be required to address any deficiencies discovered during the first phase.
Furthermore, this assessment will inform USAID/Timor-Leste in preparing a new CDCS. The LEAP III team began by completing a literature review and completed three weeks of fieldwork in Timor-Leste, meeting with a number of stakeholders including representatives of local customs authorities, government ministries, and the private sector, delivering findings in April 2020. The team found that though USAID’s Customs Reform Project, progress has been made towards the following four areas:
- Establishment of benchmarks and regular reporting of performance;
- Provision of work-place mentoring and support;
- Introduction of revised customs procedures, including in Risk Management; and
- Enhanced use of the Automated System for Customs Data World System.
The team also highlighted four areas that act as barriers to the customs change process:
- Lack of compliance with international trade facilitation requirements;
- Issues with human resource management such as the centralization of the recruitment process;
- Complications in the legal and regulatory environment; and
- Lack of regular communication and collaboration with other stakeholders from the public and private sectors such as required by the Revised Kyoto Convention General Annex.