The project of Strengthening Arab Economic Integration for Sustainable Development (AEISD), by UNDP, sets, as objective, provision of technical assistance to the League of Arab States (LAS), specifically Economic Sector and relevant organs, and member states of Pan Arab Free Trade Agreement (PAFTA) in working towards a deepened integration, including preparations for the Arab Customs Union through gradual upgrading of performance of PAFTA.
The second project component relates to strengthen the Arab connectivity among economies in the region with the expectation, these efforts would be translated into more contribution of economic integration for better livelihood of people, more employment opportunity and participation by the private sector. This task also aims to promote more integration of the economies into the global supply chain as part of support to build production capacities and leverage on new potential, brought about by the technology.
A key thematic area of great interest to Arab countries relates to the promotion and implementation of trade facilitation measures in the pursuit of better competitiveness in international trade and development of economic programmes as identified in the Sustainable Development Goals. With experiences in working in this area since 2014 in the region, UNDP continues support to several Arab countries in the modernization and simplification of trade and trade-related procedures. Areas of priority concern the design and development of the trade facilitating platform of a National Single Window (NSW). Until 2019, UNDP has assisted two PAFTA countries to develop their Roadmaps of NSWs as the main guidelines to put into operation this platform. Assistance to its implementation in one country has started and achieved important progress in specific thematic areas, for example, data harmonization and simplification of business processes of participating agencies. Expectedly, these trades facilitating initiatives strengthen the policy dialogue in economic and trade policies among Arab countries towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The third component of the project focuses on the promotion of inclusiveness and transparency as part of the development agenda, particularly on the economic empowerment of women, for regional economic integration. It focuses on empowerment of women and promotion of good governance – the two key factors for collective prosperity in the Arab region. Deepening regional economic linkages would requires a new model of governance, which should serve to make trade an effective tool to fight poverty, generate decent jobs and business opportunities to everyone.
Capitalizing on the progress achieved in the previous program of support to implementation of PAFTA (Executive Program of PAFTA), the current project also focuses on specific aspects of making trade an engine of inclusive and sustainable growth guided by the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Along this line, the Project will further, focus on helping countries and the main sub-regional and regional integration entities to accelerate the pace of trade reforms and regional economic integration, to strengthen the employment effects of those reforms, with a particular focus on women and youth, and to mobilize additional resources for this purpose.
The project also aims to address specific challenges and complexities that PAFTA Arab countries (and League of Arab States) face to enhance regional economic integration, more specifically in the transition from an FTA- based framework towards making the customs union a reality. The following presents major areas of focus:
Provide a structured and targeted technical support to LAS Secretariat and Arab negotiators on trade policy formulation and reform under PAFTA;
Provide assistance to the LAS Secretariat with a view of strengthening its organizational capacity in the pursuit of further facilitation of the regional economic integration agenda as well as promotion of trade liberalization;
Assist target Arab countries with collaboration with national policy makers in trade and economic fields in efforts of modernization and reform of trade policy in taking into consideration new developments;
Facilitation of transport and trade activities constitutes one of key areas to support national programs of enhancement of national competitiveness and better market access and more integration of the value chain;
Promotion of gender equality and women empowerment as well as generation of business and job opportunity for youth is also a key target of project activities. Moreover, good governance constitutes a pre-requisite in deepening Arab economic integration to a higher level of commitment with inclusiveness and sustainability;
Promotion of the contribution of trade, as one of pillars, to achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals at national and regional level;
These priority dimensions form the basis of the work program of the project, which is developed on the basis of the requests by the countries in response to their policy strategies. Specifically, the project targets the following result-oriented activities:
Development of the technical framework and required instruments for the PAFTA Upgrading - a upgrade from the existing PAFTA, and for the Arab Customs Union (ACU) preparations, to deepen Arab economic integration.
Reinforcement of mechanisms of policy design, measures of implementation and of systems of documenting the progress of implementation to secure smooth acceleration of realization of regional commitments.
Building the technical capability and capacity of policy makers of Arab countries to support accelerated implementation of the PAFTA Upgrading and preparations for the ACU.
Introduction of institutional arrangements that are necessary for the LAS to respond to the requirements of implementation of the PAFTA Upgrading, and consequently of designing and establishing the ACU.
Delivery of awareness raising activities and provision of technical guidance on good governance and integrity approaches.
Promotion of regulatory transparency, open dialogues and consultations with related stakeholders, targeting all social groups but particularly women, for more active participation to cross border operations and related economic activities, among others.
Putting a National Single Window into function is easier say than done. To make it happened, it is required collective efforts and partnership of the private sector, businesses and industries, and strong political determination of the Governments working for better delivery of public services and contribution to improve the productivity at the level of the entire economy. Indeed, activation of a National Single Window is a Governance project in which, new roles, new functions and even, a new distribution of responsibility among related stakeholders would arise. In working toward strengthening productive capacity of countries and better livelihood, it is required to put into place an inclusive, resilience and dynamic model of economic model.
Since its establishment, a National Single Window constitutes one of advance commitments of trade and investment at the global level, Arab countries have gradually incorporated this task as part of their national competitiveness enhancement programmes. In this regard, adopting international standards and best practices is also necessary in order to achieve not only regional linkages but also linkages with major trading partners as more and more trade takes place between Arab countries with Asia, China, India, among others.
The objective of this assignment consists of provision of technical advice, analysis of related technicality of the design and development of a National Single Window and/or Regional Single Window, to concerned authorities of identified Arab countries during 2019. That serves to capitalize on key elements of the trade facilitation framework at the global level to substantial boost trade, investment and inclusive development as part of the strategy of continuous improvement of competitiveness and optimization of trade costs.
UNDP assists Arab countries with the review and analysis of current applications of Information and Communication Technology as part of efforts of the promotion of e-Government and Paperless environment. In parallel, this exercise has been designed as part of a comprehensive programme of simplification and harmonization of trade and trade-related procedures in the pursuit of reduced time and costs. Additionally, strengthening cooperation with the private sector also plays an essential role of the end-user and the evaluator of the suitability of technical architecture.
During the implementation, the project team also cooperates with several national authorities, and regional organizations in the execution of defined activities in considering requirements and priorities of national socio- economic development plans and strategies of Arab economic integration. The execution is carried out under rules and regulations by the UN applicable for Delegated Direct Implementation and fully aligned to UNDP Programme and Operations Policies and Procedures (POPP).
The key areas to be covered by the assignment include, among others:
Analysis of technical aspects of the functional architecture of a National Single Window on the basis of national mandates in this portfolio;
Review of ICT applications in trade-related areas such as automated systems dealt with trade-facilitating measures and policies;
Continual improvement of functions of the supply chains at the country, sub-regional and regional level;
Design and activation of technical elements, essential for operations of a National Single Window;
Delivery of activities of technical assistance to specific Arab countries.
Analyze the performance of currently available automated systems for international trade and investment, particularly for the release of shipments.
As Arab countries continue working in these trade-facilitating platforms, new areas and technical portfolios are being developed under the guidance of national socio-economic development plans. Furthermore, technology and new management schemes of trade, investment, and services evolve dynamically in recent years and it could be further accelerated. Due to this, more detailed assignments would be designed by the project in addition to indicative areas of support, set forth in the current TORs.
In 2019, the long-term expert (Expert/Team leader) would operate under the direct supervision of the Chief Technical Advisor of AEISD (AEISD CTA) and reports to him in the implementation of the assignment. Factoring in the dynamic development and forthcoming mandate, the expert is required to partner with the project through the AEISD CTA in delivering support to Arab countries.
Duties and Responsibilities
Capitalizing on initial success of the support programme on trade facilitation, UNDP continues working with countries in the region in making trade facilitation one of pillars in trade and development in response to needs of having decent jobs, more transparency in the regulatory framework and business opportunities. From the pilot application of the NSW in one Arab country, it was documented substantial improvement of the control by regulatory agencies, early detection of threats of non- compliance – factors needed for a better control and activation of enforcement measures. In this regard, new technologies such as block chains, smart ledgers, integrated controls and peer-to-peer review are helpful to support trade policies, enhance compliance while providing more convenience to end-users.
As part of an on-going process of technical support to Arab countries in trade and transport facilitation, the project seeks the services of a specialist on NSW-related matters with proven records of its successful implementation in one NSW. S/he should focus on the analysis of technical aspects of the data harmonization, re-engineering of the supply chains and consideration of how to get the private sector to be more actively engaged in the process. In effect, s/he should also deliver support to national experts and managers of concerned authorities in the region in operationalization of this trade-facilitating initiative. S/he will be part of the team of specialists on trade facilitation electronic platforms with focus on business process re-engineering (BPRs in short), data harmonization and digitalization in information processing in support to national teams of identified Arab countries.
The technical team of UNDP also supports works, being undertaken by the expert during the assignment period. Specifically, the Expert discharges her/his duties under the supervision and guidance of the CTA AEISD, and forms part of the technical team of UNDP, works with other experts as required. It is also expected that works by the expert would contribute to secure the inter-operability and inter-connectivity of newly digitalized platforms by Arab countries with similar platforms in trading partners.
In addition to that, the assignment also sets as target, trainings and preparations of the national teams in charge of the development of a NSW with focus on the transfer of knowledge and skills so regional and national experts could finetune and enhance their systems.
The assignment of technical assistance in the promotion of a National Single Window (NSW) should address the following issues:
Review of applications using Information and Communication Technology in the areas of administration and management of trade and trade-related formalities, documents and permits for international trade, services and investment in one or more national agencies or participants to the NSW;
Analysis and formulation of proposals towards acceleration of adoption of e-Government, paperless solutions in order to achieve better performance, efficiency and accountability;
Application of good practices in operationalization of a Single Window in delivering better public services with efficiency at optimized costs, including experiences of the private sector;
Delivery of activities of capacity building to Arab countries as identified by respective work plans to support development of technical aspects such as data harmonization, business process overhaul, as identified by countries;
Provision of technical advice through preparation and submission of technical documents, analysis of operational/functional aspects for digital platforms such as National Single Windows and the like;
Provision of technical opinions and suggested proposals to deal with technical and operational challenges during the implementation;
Other required tasks on the basis of the requirements of Arab countries in the concerned areas as defined by the Chief Technical Advisor (CTA).
Demonstrates integrity and fairness, by modeling the UN/UNDP’s values and ethical standards;
Promotes the vision, mission and strategic goals of UNDP;
Displays cultural, gender, religion, race, nationality and age sensitivity and adaptability.
Time management and organizational skills, with the ability to undertake multiple tasks and deliver under pressure;
Strong analytical and synthesis skills;
Ability to work independently and achieve quality results with limited supervision and within tight schedules;
Strong quantitative and qualitative research skills;
Experience in reports production;
Ability to write in a clear and concise manner;
Good teamwork and interpersonal skills;
Flexibility and ability to handle multiple tasks and work under pressure;
Excellent computer skills especially Word, Excel and Power Point.
Knowledge Management and Learning
Ability to strongly promote and build knowledge products;
Promotes knowledge management in UNDP and a learning environment in the office through leadership and personal example;
Seeks and applies knowledge, information and best practices from within and outside of UNDP;
Demonstrates a strong capacity for innovation and creativity in providing strategic policy advice and direction.
Demonstrated ability to think strategically and to provide credible leadership;
Demonstrated flexibility in leadership by performing and/or overseeing the analysis/resolution of complex issues;
Required Skills and Experience
I. Academic qualification:
Master’s degree in information and communication technology, computer sciences, international trade, business administration, economics, trade and development, or related fields.
II. Work Experience:
- At least 8 years of experience in developing and operating information and communication technology applications in an automated data and information processing systems for the clearance and release of shipments through international trade and/or logistics services;
- Experience in designing, developing and deploying any National Single Window is a major asset;
- Extensive experience in the design and establishment of automated applications concerning information processing for trade and transport management in a multi-agency platform is required;
- Demonstrated skills in the preparation and drafting of a national data set or standard data elements for automated systems or ICT applications towards an integrated information processing environment.
- Adequate understanding of the WCO Data Model and the international standards and practices implemented by UN/CEFACT;
- Proven experience in the business process re-engineering and data harmonization;
- Demonstrated knowledge of technical standards and international standards, applicable to the design and operations of a NSW, among them, those developed by UNECE, World Customs Organization, relevant international and multilateral organizations;
- Proven experience working within the Arab region;
- Previous experience working for the UN.
III. Language Requirements
Language proficiency in both written and oral English. Knowledge of Arabic is a plus.
UNDP is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply.