VCN – Cross-border trade involves many units, so how to improve the Cross-Border Trade Index while the responsibility not only belongs to Customs. Regarding this issue, a Customs Reporter spoke with Mr. Kim Long Bien (photo), Director, Deputy Head of the Customs Reform and Modernisation Board (General Department of Customs).
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Sir, after the World Bank (WB) published the Doing Business Report, including Vietnam’s Cross-Border Trade Index, which was ranked at 100 among 190 economies, reducing 6 places from the previous year’s report, how has the Customs reviewed and evaluated the index?
After the Government assigned the Ministry of Finance to act as the focal point in charge of the Cross-Border Trade Index with a target of increasing by 3 to 5 places in 2019 and 10 to 15 places by 2021, the Customs sector has actively implemented solutions.
The General Department of Customs has reported to the Ministry of Finance on consulting relevant ministries and agencies on the draft Decision on the issuance of a plan to upgrade Vietnam’s Cross-Border Trade Index for the 2019-2021 period.
The General Department also requests the relevant ministries, sectors and units to send officials to join the inter-sectorial working group to assess the Cross-Border Trade Index and invites WB’s staff to participate in the group to provide the latest information on customs reform and modernisation.
When analysing Cross-Border Trade Index, what is the biggest bottleneck, sir?
The biggest bottleneck on clearance time and the main import and export costs is the specialized inspection. Customs authorities must assess and review from the procedural stage to the operational stage both at the General Department of Customs and localities.
At the General Department, the Customs Reform and Modernisation Board has requested units such as Customs Control and Supervision Department, Customs IT and Statistics Department, Import and Export Duty Department, Customs Risk Management Board to review the process and analyse reason why the codes surveyed by the WB have a long clearance time to find bottlenecks.
At localities, the General Department has directed local Customs units, especially Hai Phong and Ho Chi Minh City, to review all businesses related to two codes surveyed by the WB to capture enterprises’ problems. In particular, the General Department had two meetings with Hai Phong and Ho Chi Minh City with the attendance of Customs, warehouse, yard and port operators, logistics enterprises, representatives of the specialized inspection agencies to grasp the remaining problems in the cross-border trade transactions, thereby proposing solutions.
What will the inter-sectorial working group do to assess the Cross-Border Trade Index?
To upgrade the Cross-border Trade Index in accordance with Government’s Resolution No. 02 / NQ-CP, the General Department of Customs is expected to establish an inter-sectorial working group to access Cross-border Trade Index and conduct a survey in May 2019. The working group will include representatives of Vietnam Fatherland Front, WB, Central Institute for Economic Management, enterprises. The survey aims to accurately measure the time and cost for implementation of cross-border trade procedures in Vietnam. In addition, evaluating the efficiency of Customs institutional reform, automated system for customs clearance VASSCM for imports and exports. This survey is a premise to further define responsibilities between specialized management agencies and customs authorities and gives the most transparent and objective view.
This survey also implement the instructions of Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue in Notice 105 / TB-VPCP on March 22, 2019, assigning the Ministry of Finance (General Department of Customs) to work with Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) to develop and set up a mechanism to supervise the task performance by ministries and sectors according to the Government's programs and plans through the publication of annual reports related to measurement of time of administrative process and customs clearance.
This survey has two purposes. The first purpose is understanding the customs clearance time, not only for the two codes surveyed by the WB (code 85 and 8708) but also for other codes and monitoring the procedural handling of Customs officers on the machine to find problems and define the responsibility. The second one is improving the ranking of the Cross-border Trade Index. The survey results will be sent to supervision agencies such as the Fatherland Front, VCCI, Ministry of Planning and Investment and the WB for conference and comparison when conducting private surveys.
What solutions has the General Department of Customs developed and reported to the Ministry of Finance to improve the Cross-border Trade Index, sir?
The General Department of Customs has reported to the Ministry of Finance on solutions to improve the Cross-Border Trade Index such as continuing to reform management and specialized inspection and connecting the National Single Window Portal. In this solution, ministries and sectors are responsible for fully implementing the principles of management and specialized inspection including: Applying risk management principles based on assessment and analysis of the compliance level of enterprises and risk level of goods; focusing on post-inspection; making the list of items subject to specialized inspection with HS codes transparent; publicizing the management regime and costs; applying online public service level 4.
Besides, Customs continues to improve operational efficiency such as: perfecting the legal system; studying and promulgating documents to amend, supplement and guide the implementation of Customs Law and Law on Import and Export Taxes; deploying electronic tax payment; completing the mechanism of channel classification regime; linking stages of previous clearance, in-clearance and post clearance; ensuring the role and responsibility for participation of all customs units at all levels; strengthening risk analysis and assessment, applying the criteria of channel classification criteria for high-risk shipments; publicizing criteria for evaluating the compliance of enterprises, propagating, supporting and encouraging enterprises to voluntarily comply with the law and facilitating enterprises in import and export activities.
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The plan also refers to the role of the ministries and agencies involved in improving quality; reducing time and costs of loading and unloading and movement of goods at warehouses, yards, ports and reducing transport time and costs for enterprises.
Thank you, Sir!
By N.Linh/ Huyen Trang