The FCDO Trade Facilitation and Customs Support programme (Tasdeer) is a three-year, FCDO-funded programme that aims at improving trade performance and customs capabilities in the Palestine. It will ultimately contribute to increased inclusive private sector-led economic growth and fiscal sustainability in the OPTs. The programme is designed to be flexible and adaptable, and it will work politically and technically to make progress across the following four key interrelated workstreams:
Work Stream 1 (WS1): Support to expedite the movement of goods and reduce transaction costs.
Work Stream 2 (WS2): Support to improve Palestinian trade-related institutions and business enabling environment.
Work Stream 3 (WS3): Support to improve the private sector’s skills and innovation to export and create jobs.
Work Stream 4 (WS4): Support to improve PA’s Customs readiness to assume functions from Israel to collect revenues from trade-related taxes.
The programme is implemented by a Cowater-led consortium on behalf of FCDO. A Steering Committee (including representatives from FCDO, the Ministry of National Economy and Ministry of Finance) will approve interventions identified and designed by the supplier. Supplier interventions will be reviewed, and quality assured by a Strategic Advisory Panel comprised of experts from the core consortium members across the four work streams.
About the Palestinian Standards Institution / Mutual Recognition Agreement’s (MRA’s):
The Palestinian Standard Institution (PSI) was established in 1994 and started its operations in 1997 as the sole body at the Palestinian Authority (PA) responsible for issuing Palestinian standards and is also considered the focal point for Palestinian participation in the global system of harmonized standards.
The purpose of Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA) is to facilitate mutual market access by eliminating duplicative testing and certification or inspection of exported products among two countries. MRA’s reduce Technical Barrier to Trade and increase international trade volumes. MRA’s allow Conformity Assessment Bodies such as PSI to recognise conformity procedures between the signing two countries to allow goods from each country entry into their respective markets without any further testing or time loss. PSI has identified six priority markets for the next three years: five Arab markets (Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Tunisia, Kuwait, and Egypt) plus Israel. PSI will focus its efforts for this year (2021) on signing MRAs with the standards institutes of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Israel.
In recent years, PSI has been engaged in discussions on MRAs with the five priority Arab countries. Bilateral discussions have begun with the Iraqi Standards Institute after PM Shtayyeh’s official visit to Iraq in July 2019. Furthermore, PSI considers the Saudi market of strategic economic importance to Palestinian exporters and importers. Exporters will be able to enter the Saudi and Iraqi markets without the need for further standards conformity procedures at international gateway of the two countries and thus reducing cost and time for export. This will eventually encourage more Palestinian exporters to target these two relatively large markets. The economic importance and size of both the Saudi and Iraqi markets, as well as political support following the Palestinian Prime Minister’s visit to Iraq have all contributed to selecting those two countries as priority countries. Accordingly, high-level virtual discussions were held during 2020 between PSI and Saudi counterparts on MRAs, but progress was slowed down due to COVID-19. However, in January 2021, PSI received a letter from Saudi Arabia Standards Institute expressing their openness to approve PSI standards certificates for a list of non-food items to be determined by PSI. PSI believes that this new development will pave the way for signing the MRA.
The Greater Arab Free Trade Agreement (GAFTA), and more specifically the Saudi Government decision to grant Palestinian products a 100% customs and tariffs exemption are the basis for the favourable treatment that Palestinian products currently enjoy in the Saudi market. According to the MoNE, this decision has been renewed on annual basis since the year 2000. The bilateral discussions with the Iraqi Standards Institute have progressed in 2019, especially after the PM official visit to Iraq and consequently a draft agreement was produced. However, since the outbreak of COVID-19 all discussions were put on hold.
There are no previous studies to reflect on how the MRAs may affect MSMEs owned by women and other marginalised groups access to external markets, including the Saudi and Iraqi markets, or the specific conditions that MRAs need to include to benefit potential exporters of MSMEs. The market research will allow PSI to understand the needs of businesses owned by the marginalized groups and take them into consideration when signing the MRA’s.
Objectives of the Assignment
Tasdeer, in consultation with PSI and the MoNE, has identified the following objectives for the assignment:
- Support PSI in the preparations needed for signing MRAs with Saudi Arabia and Iraq to ensure mutual recognition of standards certification for a selected number of products and services to enable exporters (including MSMEs) of these products and services to enter these two Arab markets with the least cost and shortest time.
- Standardise the process of MRA signing within PSI for future use in signing other MRA’s with other countries.
Scope of Work
Tasdeer planned interventions for 2021 is to enhance the role and capacity of the Palestine Standards Institute (PSI) to fully assume its responsibility as a national standards institute and to facilitate imports and exports of goods across borders. To this extent, Tasdeer will support PSI in the preparations needed to sign Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA) with the standards institute in Saudi Arabia and Iraq. As part of this activity, Tasdeer and PSI would like to recruit a Standards and Market Research Expert with proven experience in the Saudi and Iraqi markets to support PSI in preparing documentation requirements for concluding the MRAs. The consultant will identify Saudi and Iraqi standards requirements to include in the MRA’s and assess PSI readiness including potential gaps if they exit as well as an implementation timeframe to address those gaps. The Standards and Market Research Expert will also support PSI in preparing its negotiation position while discussing MRAs with the counterparts throughout this process.
To achieve the stated objectives, the Standards Market Research Expert will engage with the following (but not limited to) Palestinian stakeholders: Ministry of National Economy (MoNE), The Palestinian Standard Institution (PSI), Palestinian private sector organisations (Palestinian Federation of Industries (PFI), Pal Trade, Chambers of Commerce, Businessmen Association, Palestine Shippers Council, Businesswoman Forum; Specialized industrial unions such as Stone and Marble, leather and Shoes , Food and agri-business, Furniture , Paper , Garments); private businesses including SMEs and female and male potential exporters etc.
Roles and Responsibilities
The Standards and Market Research Expert is expected to support PSI throughout this process with the following tasks:
- Conduct technical meetings with PSI to achieve the purpose of the activity.
- Conduct desk research on the process for signing MRA’s including requirements and documentation for concluding the MRA’s.
- Support PSI in conducting preliminary market research study in Palestine and target markets to identify in the short, medium, and long run competitive and promising products and sectors to be included in the MRA’s.
- Conduct consultative workshops with the private sector including MSMEs owned by women and marginalized group (through their representative organizations) to address the importance of mutual recognition and get stakeholders' feedback on their needs and agree/validate priority products to be reflected in the market research report.
- Identify Saudi and Iraqi standards requirements and compliance procedures to enable conclusion of signing MRA’s.
- In cooperation with PSI, assess PSI readiness including potential gaps and develop an action plan with timeframe to address them.
- Assist PSI in drafting an MoU that will detail the roles and responsibilities of both sides to the MRA as well as the preparation of required documents.
- A short report detailing all requirements to prepare a draft MOU in the effort to sign an MRA with the two countries.
- Market research report on the two listed markets that will Identify products to be included in the MRAs.
- Presentation of market research during the private sector workshop.
- Develop draft MoU, along with all the required documents.
- Develop a standard process to be used by PSI to sign other MRA’s with other countries.
Geographic coverage and duty station
The Standards and Market Research Expert will undertake the assessment from his/her own office and the field (Palestine) and will be expected to maintain regular contact with Tasdeer, MoNE, PSI and relevant stakeholders including those representing the small-scale traders of women, youth and PWD, for the duration of its work. The Standards Market Research Expert will need to arrange visits to all priority export sectors in the West Bank/ Gaza, and to conduct interviews with relevant governmental authorities and private sector organisations/firms including PalTrade, PFI, Federation of Industries, BWF, specialised federations, chambers of commerce, gender units/focal points in these entities and Palestinian small and medium size exporters etc. The Standards and Market Research Expert is also expected to conduct online meetings with relevant informants in Saudi Arabia and Iraq to obtain information on the two markets.
جميع الحقوق محفوظة لموقع جوبس.
Required Expertise, Competencies and Skills
- Master’s degree in one of the following: Economics, Business administration, developmental studies, political science, trade law, industrial engineer, or any other related field.
- Background experience in MRA conditions with focus on standards and requirements as well as MoU drafting experience which will lead to signing an MRA.
- Proven competency in conducting market research analyses and familiarity with gender and inclusion analytical frameworks along with experience and knowledge of the Saudi Arabia and Iraqi markets.
- Experience in dealing with Palestinian private sector including MSMEs and/or experience with Palestinian export trends to reginal markets.
- Familiar with the trade ecosystem, its dynamics in Palestine and its influence on the MSMEs including that owned by women and the marginalised groups.
- Background experience working in/with Palestinian Governmental Institutions.
- Proven competency in writing and speaking English.
- Strong leadership and planning skills
- Strong analytical skills.
- Tasdeer is an equal opportunity programme, qualified women and men, Persons with Disability professionals are encouraged to apply.
Type of the Contract
- Short Term Consultancy.
Duration of Contract and level of effort
- The assignment is expected to start on August 20th, 2021, and to be undertaken over a maximum period of three months, with up to 25 days Level of Effort (LoE).
Completed applications must be sent by email to [email protected] by August 1, 2021.
Tasdeer is an equal employer. We thank all applicants for their interest, however, only those shortlisted will be contacted.