Position: Local Customs Legal Expert (further Consultant)
Program: USAID Moldova Institutional and Structural Reforms Activity (MISRA)
Location: Chisinau, Moldova
Period of Performance: May - July 2023
Total Level of Effort: up to 25 days
Work Plan Activity: 2.2.8 New customs procedures for modification of the customs
The USAID Moldova Institutional and Structural Reform Activity (MISRA) is a five-year project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Nathan Associates Inc. MISRA’s objective is to stimulate a sustainable and inclusive recovery from the regional crisis, improve the institutional, business, and trade enabling environment in Moldova by supporting Moldova’s public institutions and the private sector to accelerate the implementation of trade liberalization mechanisms, adopt structural and investment climate reforms, accelerate financial sector reforms, improve economic governance in the public sector, and enhance strategic communications between the private and public actors. MISRA builds on prior and ongoing USAID and US Government activities in the business enabling environment and trade facilitation space to strengthen Moldova’s economic growth and resilience, and by doing so, increase transparency and accountability.
International commerce works in very competitive conditions, in which customs authorities must interact with complex business systems and supply chains to ensure the reliable and timely clearance of goods. To facilitate the flow of commerce, modern customs administrations are digitalizing, streamlining processes, relying more on documentation than physical inspections of goods, and implementing modern pre-clearance and post-clearance processes, instead of merely management within the narrow time frame of clearance at the border.
This scope of work focuses specifically on revision of declarations during the post-clearance process.
Customs declarations are filled out and submitted to customs authorities by declarants (e.g., customs broker, or economic operator). Mistakes may be made (for or against the benefit of the declarant), such as in the rule of origin, harmonized code, operating treaty, changes in duties, etc. In such instances, amendments in declarations are appropriate after goods have cleared customs, thus leading to a high number of requests for modifications and/or invalidations. The Moldova Customs Service lacks clear laws, procedures, and other guidance on how it should manage such requests for post-clearance modifications and/or invalidations of declarations.
Hundreds of requests are being submitted annually by customs brokers and economic operators concerning amendments and invalidation of customs declarations post-clearance. There are 15-27 customs officers, among three territorial customs administrations, designated to deal with these issues but, without clear guidance, their decisions are perceived by the private sector and other government institutions as non-transparent, arbitrary, inconsistent, and biased. Moreover, a significant amount of decisions are litigated in the courts, which also may result in inconsistent decisions.
Therefore, at the request of the Moldova Customs Service, MISRA contracted an international customs expert (expert) to examine best international practices, particularly within the EU, on amending and/or invalidating declarations post-clearance (after they have been cleared and released by customs). The international customs expert will examine and report on how amendments should be managed depending on the nature of the mistake emphasizing legal consequences; the appropriate mechanism for documenting and recording the amendment; and whether and how legal remedies should be made available in the event an amendment is rejected.
Consistent with the work of the international expert, the local customs legal expert will assist the Moldova Customs Service in drafting a regulation, in accordance with Article 172, (3) and (4) of Customs Code No. 95 of August 24, 2021. The regulation will provide clear guidance to customs staff, other government institutions, and the private sector on appropriate post-clearance procedures for amendment and/or invalidation of a declaration.
Responsibilities and Tasks
· Review existing legal/normative provisions on procedures for post-clearance amendments and invalidation of customs declarations at a declarant’s request.
· Review the report and recommendations of the international customs expert on international best practices and EU rules, regulations, and requirements regarding post-clearance modification and invalidation of customs declarations at a declarant’s request.
· Identify how the regulatory framework should be developed/modified/completed.
· Consult with the Moldova Customs Service to identify and respond to their needs and requirements.
· Draft the text of necessary amendments and/or new legal/normative acts and supporting documents (e.g. explanatory notes, RIA, table of consultations, etc.) related to the procedure of post-clearance amendment and invalidation of customs declarations at a declarant’s request.
· Support Moldova Customs Service with the collection of feedback from the private sector, as required, on issues encountered and proposals for improving the proposed draft of the regulation.
· Support Moldova Customs Service with consultations and coordination among other government institutions on the proposed draft of the regulation.
· Adjust the text of the draft of the regulation after the consultation processes as appropriate.
- First draft for Customs Service of the necessary amendments and/or new legal/normative and supporting documents, by May 31, 2023.
- Second draft of the of the necessary amendments and/or new legal/normative and supporting documents in order to be submitted for consultations with the private sector and government institutions, by June 12, 2023.
- Final draft containing modifications/adjustments/new provisions on the drafted documents depending on consultation process. Note: Due date depends on the consultation process.
Supervisory Responsibilities and Reporting
The consultant will report to Deputy Chief of Party and Senior Trade Specialist.
Required Skills and Qualifications
- Master’s degree in law, with specific studies and/or experience with the customs law and regulations preferred.
- At least 10 years of experience in drafting legal/normative acts and supporting documents
- Demonstrated knowledge and experience in leading legal/normative consultative processes (public and private) preferred.
- Experience with the transposition of EU legislation preferred.
- Experience in working with public authorities preferred.
- Writing and speaking skills in Romanian required; writing and speaking skills in English preferred.
How to Apply
We welcome your CV and, preferably, cover letter at Moldovajobs@nathaninc.com. Please apply by April 24, with “Local Customs Legal Expert” in the subject line. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted. This short-term position will remain open until filled.
 Post-clearance instruments in the form of subsequent control (post-clearance audit and reverification of customs declarations) which is carried out by the customs authority and implies the verification, after release of goods and validation of customs declarations and could consequently lead to the modification of the data within the customs declarations are not included in the scope of work.
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