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Challenges for Customs management in the cross-border e-commerce environment

10:16 | 16/05/2019

VCN – The development of cross-border e-commerce imposes new challenges for Customs management to ensure quick clearance and release of goods while still ensuring requirements on law compliance.

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challenges for customs management in the cross border e commerce environment
VCN – The development of cross-border e-commerce imposes new challenges for Customs management to ensure quick clearance and release of goods while still ensuring requirements on law compliance.

Many problems need to be controlled

Cross-border e-commerce currently contributes 21% of total global e-commerce revenue and benefits for both buyers and sellers. Under this model, manufacturers can directly distribute goods to consumers and do not need any intermediaries. Compared with the traditional international trading model, enterprises reduce many stages, thereby reducing transaction costs and offering better prices for buyers and sellers. Thereby, cross-border e-commerce is very suitable for small and medium enterprises.

In Vietnam, e-commerce has entered a rapid development period. According to statistics, up to 53% of the population uses the internet and the introduction of a series of e-commerce websites such as Lazada, Tiki, Shopee, Sendo and Adayroi show that Vietnamese consumers are no stranger to buying goods on e-commerce trading floors.

In particular, for cross-border e-commerce, the outstanding feature is the fast order, convenient payment and delivery. The cross-border e-commerce environment is different from traditional commerce, so when it develops strongly it imposes many problems on state management agencies.

For Customs management agency, the Customs Control and Supervision Department (General Department of Customs), said that the Customs agency must ensure speed and efficiency in customs clearance process and suitable human resources to respond to the increase in small and low-value shipments. Meanwhile, the risk management in e-commerce needs to foresee issues such as lack of information, inaccurate declaration, lack of compliance records of buyers because they are irregular buyers. In addition, difficulties in preventing prohibited goods, goods restricted from imports and exports, smuggling goods also arise.

Meanwhile, when the number of e- commerce trading floors and e-commerce websites increased sharply, management was more difficult. The control of information on goods on trading floors is very difficult, so there may be goods infringing on intellectual property and counterfeit goods but the state agency cannot control them.

For management agencies in terms of payment and guarantee mechanisms and large payment transactions, the state management agency cannot control the accuracy between payment and orders.

For specialized management agencies, the specialized inspection still applies for shipments with small quantity, causing difficulties for specialized management agencies as buyers. Because the buyers have no deep knowledge of goods as specialized inspection, they must face many difficulties in obtaining the required licenses.

Difficult to apply taxable value and specialized inspections

According to the Hanoi Customs Department, currently the postal service companies, express delivery companies as the transporters make procedures to import goods and fulfil tax obligations for the shipment, then deliver the shipment goods to consumers. Customs procedures comply with the provisions of Circular 49/2015 / TT-BTC and Circular 191/2015 / TT-BTC.

However, in management and e-commerce, there are problems in managing taxable value ​​as well as applying specialized management. In terms of taxable value, buyers often buy at the discount time or buy a lot of goods to enjoy preferential prices. While documents stipulating Customs value have not provided this case. So, in order to ensure correct and full tax revenue to state budget and benefits for buyers, there should be specific regulations for organizations and individuals joining imports of goods through e-commerce to declare correct customs value and for Customs agencies to check and determine taxable value.

Regarding specialized management, currently, the legal regulations on specialized management do not distinguish between e-commerce and traditional commerce. Most imported goods through e-commerce transactions are directly performed by individuals, in many cases, the goods have insignificant volume and value but require import permits and specialized inspections such as books, stories, milk powder, supplementary foods, cosmetics and electronics. Buyers often do not understand about goods policies, so they meet difficulties in applying for permits, specialized inspections, wasting costs and extending clearance time, even if there are cases that they must refuse to receive the goods due to not obtaining the permit. Therefore, it is necessary to have separate regulations on specialized management for individuals importing goods through e-commerce in order to create transparency and convenience while fighting against smuggling and tax evasion, banned goods and goods restricted from imports and exports.

Regarding this issue, a representative of Song Binh Trading Service Co., Ltd. (HCMC) said that cross-border e-commerce is an additional shopping besides the traditional channel. In order to manage tax, companies joining cross-border e-commerce must transmit successful transactions to the Customs websites.

“By confirming successful transactions at the discount time, it will avoid price recalculation when the goods arrive Vietnam. Because, it take time to transport goods to Vietnam, at that time the price reduction has been changed and the prices on the websites are no longer reduced. Connecting data with management agencies also avoids customers' dissatisfaction for tax calculation according to new prices or prices which are not cut on the website. It is the responsibility of enterprises exploiting e-commerce goods” this representative said.

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Facing the development trend of cross-border e-commerce, the General Department of Customs is studying to develop a management model and management in Vietnam. It is necessary to have a sufficient legal mechanism to fit with the development trend and ensure the management and create favourable conditions for commercial transactions that are popular worldwide.

By Ngoc Linh/ Huyen Trang