IBI Continues Supporting Trade Governance Reform in Timor-Leste

By Matthew Willis

In April of 2022, IBI was awarded a prime contract to implement the USAID/Timor-Leste Trade Governance Activity (TGA). This 40-month program will support the government of Timor-Leste as it develops trade systems that are more efficient, transparent, accountable, and compliant with international standards and obligations.

The primary objectives of the Activity are as follows:

  • Trade governance strengthened
  • Trade operations optimized to meet international standards
  • Trade facilitation and use of trade facilitation systems and instruments increased.

Cargo clearance at Dili Seaport, Timor-Leste.

USAID expects that the renewed commitment to reform under TGA will contribute to increased trade, investment, economic growth, and international integration.

Over these first few months, much progress has been made. At the onset of technical implementation, the field team, based in the capital city of Dili, met with 80 stakeholder organizations to outline proposed interventions, and explore areas for collaboration. In addition to the Customs Authority, these stakeholders include other government agencies, private sector firms and customs brokers, civil society and non-governmental organizations, and transnational development partners (such as the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade). The TGA team will continue to collaborate with many of these parties to ensure that trade governance is enhanced according to the interests of both the private and public sectors, as well as international best practices.

Customs Authority staff participate in a discussion on gender inclusion in the workplace.

Sub header: Inclusivity and Sustainability at the Forefront

Providing development solutions that are inclusive as well as effective is a core component of USAID. In July, our team held a workshop for female Customs Authority staff on gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) issues. As part of this workshop, the 21 women in attendance were able to complete surveys and hold an open discussion on gender-related issues in their workplace. Participants in this workshop expressed their appreciation to have a safe space to discuss GESI-related concerns, as well as their hope for follow-on initiatives.

IBI is no stranger to Timor-Leste; we implemented the USAID Customs Reform Project (CRP) from 2017 to 2021. This project helped the national Customs Authority to implement improved customs declaration and seaport clearing processes. The associated reforms reduced average clearing times at Dili Seaport by over 60 percent and resulted in an estimated $38 million in savings for the private sector.