VCN- Following the Prime Minister’s Directive 11/CT-TTg dated March 4, 2020 on urgent tasks and solutions to resolve difficulties for production, business and ensure social security in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Customs sector has advised and implemented supportive policies for enterprises. In an interview with Customs News, Au Anh Tuan-Director of Customs Control and Supervision Department under the General Department of Vietnam Customs,provided more details on this.
|Piloting one time consultation and using that result many times|
|Automating the management of air cargo –enhancing competition in international trade|
|Customs units in Central provinces facilitate trade amid pandemic|
|Mr. Au Anh Tuan-Director of Customs Control and Supervision Department|
The complicated Covid-19 pandemic has impactedbusiness production activities and the import–export activities of enterprises. In this context, what does the Customs sector do to assist enterprises?
- Over the past time, amid the disease hitting import-export activities, strengthening border control measures andrestricting and stopping flights on entry and exit from foreign countries, the General Department of Vietnam Customs (GDVC) has directed local customs departments to strengthen measures to facilitate trade and prevent smuggling and trade fraud. The GDVC held online meetings with business associations, authorized enterprise operators, foreign-invested enterprises to promptly grasp problems to direct local customs departments to remove them for the business community.
In addition, the GDVC has directed local customs departments where international airports are located to facilitate immigration procedures andcoordinate with the local Steering Committee for Covid-19 prevention and control to conduct customs clearance procedures for passengers, whileensuringrequirements on pandemic prevention and complyingwith customs laws.
Notably, in border provinces heavily affected by the closure of some sub-border gates and border crossings and restricted customs clearance at the main border gates, the GDVC has requested local departments work with agencies to hold bilateral talks with competent authorities of partner countries to facilitate trade but still control the spread of disease. Border provinces have performed this work well and coordinated with relevant agencies, especially the Chinese side, to relieve congestion in border gates, promoting exports of Vietnamese agricultural products to China, and at the same time facilitate imports of components, raw materials, machinery and equipment for production.
|Customs officers at Thanh Thuy (Ha Giang Customs Department) inspect goods during the pandemic|
How haveborder-gate customs authorities taken measures to facilitate businesses?
- Local customs departments have taken measures to facilitate businesses based on the GDVC’s documents and the actual situation. For example, in Lang Son where exported goods have been congested, especially agricultural products and imports of raw material for production due to restrictive measures of immigration applied by the two counties during the pandemic, Lang Son Customs Department has directed customs branches to increase working hours, speed up customs clearance time and coordinate with local agencies to hold talks with Chinese customs to extend customs clearance and increase clearance capacity in the warehouse area at the border.
Lao Cai Customs Department has supported control of vehicles by establishing the teams to transport goods from border gates to check points. Customs has allowed super-sized and super-weight cargoes on transport means to the inland and return according to requests of the provincial People's Committee.
In addition, customs authorities atinternational airports have supported businesses in quick customs clearance, especially foreign Government's aid to Vietnam forpreventingand combatingthe pandemic as well as Vietnam's aid to other countries. Customs procedures for aid goods are conducted quickly andbusinesses can complete and submit documents such as export permits and documents later andCustoms will still carry out customs clearance to ensure timely prevention and fight thepandemic.
To help businesses reduce difficulties and focus on production and business, the Customs sector has reduced and extended inspections in 2020. Could you please to tell us how does Customs facilitate businesses in production and business but still prevent them from abusing policiesto violate thelaw?
- In Directive 11/ CT-TTg, the Prime Minister assigned the Ministry of Finance to direct customs and relevant agencies not to conduct periodic inspections. On that basis, the Ministry of Finance and the GDVC directed the entire Inspectorate and the Post- Clearance Audit units nationwide to stop inspections and only focus on inspecting businesses with specific violation signs, supporting businesses amid the pandemic.
March and April was the deadline for enterprises submitting final settlement reports on using imported raw materials and supplies for processing and production for export, the GDVC directed local customs departments to inspect final settlement reports with signs of violationsand implement risk management for other cases. For cases that have not been inspected in 2020, the inspection will be transferred to the following year or transfer risk signs to other forces such as inspectorate for inspection in the next period.
Currently, a concern ofimport and export enterprises is the difficulty in submitting the Certificate of Origin (C / O) due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Could you tell us how this problem will be solved and upcoming solutions from the Customs sector?
- Recently, due to the impact of the disease, some businesses said it is impossible to have the original certificate of origin to submit to Customs as prescribed in the agreements, as well as in circulars of the Ministry of Finance. In addition, the General Department of Customs also received proposals from some international organizations such as ASEAN and some countries on consideration and acceptance of e-certificates of origin with e-seals and e- signatures and allowing the extension of submission of C/O
To remove difficulties and facilitate businesses amid the complex disease in some counties, the GDVC has submitted to the Ministry of Finance a draft circular guiding inspection as well as considering the approval of certificates of origin submitted during the pandemic. Specifically, the draft circular provides some solutions to support businesses.
Currently, enterprises can delay the submission of C/O for 30 days, the new draft circular proposes the deadline for submission of C/O may be extended within the validity period of C/O. For example, if some C/O has one-year validity, then enterprises can submit C/O within one year
Besides, due to social distancing and working methods, some countries have changed the method of issuing C/O, using stamps and signatures in a manual manner into using digital signatures and e-stamps to enjoy incentive policies. However, this content has not been specified in free trade agreements and Vietnamese legal provisions.
The GDVC has reported to the Ministry of Finance to solve the problem. Currently, the draft circular guides extension of deadline for submission of C/O and approval of e-C/O under PBF file, which is being submitted to the Legal Department of the Ministry of Finance for appraisal and is expected to be issued soon. When the circular is issued, it will resolve difficulties and problems for the business community related to supporting enterprises in considering special preferential treatment when enterprises lack the original C/O aswell as extending submission deadline of C/O to the customs for special preferential treatment for enterprises.
Could you tell usabout the GDVC’s solutions to facilitate import-export activities in the near future?
- The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on businesses not only stops in the current period but will last from now to the end of the year, and may be last longer to 2021, the GDVC is also developing a plan to implement trade facilitation measures as well as strengthening support for businesses in the near future.
Specifically, the GDVC is reviewing and coordinating with the Ministry of Industry to build a number of projects to be submitted to the Government, like the scheme of renewing the specialized inspection model, which is expected to be submitted to the Government in the second quarter of 2020. When the contents of the project are implemented, the specialized inspection procedures will be much simpler than before. In addition, the Customs office is also reviewing and amending relevant legal documents like in addition to amending and promulgating a circular on origin in the second quarter, Customs will propose the Ministry to issue a revised circularsupplementing Circular 38 and Circular 39. In which, introducing measures to create favorable conditions for enterprises such as: Simplifying customs procedures, completely electronicising the submission of documents in customs dossiers, fundamentally changing methods of carrying out customs procedures, in addition to minimizing unnecessary procedures to support the business community and shortening the time for customs clearance and goods clearance. In addition, the GDVC continues to recommend ministries and agencies to review specialized inspection procedures so the ministries will continue to simplify procedures and abolish unnecessary procedures amid the complicated movements of the pandemic.
In addition, the GDVC continues to work with port and yard operators to review and handle backlogged shipments at seaports to cut storage fees and support port operators forusing warehouses for customs clearance.
Hopefully, measures deployed by the Customs and ministries in the near future will partly support enterprises amid the complex Covid-19 pandemic that has been hitting the enterprise’s operations.
By Ngoc Linh/Ngoc Loan