VCN - Trade facilitation is seen as an effective solution to improve business activities of enterprises, increase opportunities to attract foreign investment. Michael Greene (photo), Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Vietnam appreciated the efforts of the Customs to facilitate trade.
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How have Vietnam and the United States made commitments and cooperation to facilitate trade?
Commercial activities account for one third of Vietnam's GDP, so, in order to prosper, trade facilitation is an important factor, the procedures need to be quicker and more convenient. Moreover, Vietnam must comply with the signed International Agreements and Treaties, including Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Therefore, the US Government approved USAID to commit to support and accompany Vietnam in the Trade Facilitation Project. This project will coordinate with the Ministry of Finance and the General Department of Customs to implement in six provinces (Hanoi, Hai Phong, Quang Tri, Da Nang, Dong Nai and Ho Chi Minh City) with the aim to harmonise and simplify the import and export procedures, and specialized inspection procedures. The successful projectwill help Vietnam's business environment achieve the desire of the business community with more predictable, simpler and unified procedures among ministries and branches.
How do you assess the role of the General Department of Customs in implementing Vietnam's trade facilitation commitments?
The General Department of Vietnam Customs plays an important role in coordination among ministries and branches to implement the TFA. Moreover, the General Department of Customs has been offering many solutions to facilitate trade, especially solutions on simplifying import and export procedures. Moreover, through the Vietnam Trade Information Portal (VTIP), the General Department of Customs has provided other necessary information related to the commercial issues for the private sector. The General Department of Customs has also developed an electronic portal for handling customs declaration files; exchanged information with line ministries and ASEAN members.
In particular, in order to shorten the time for handling customs clearance procedures at seaports and airports, the General Department of Customs is conducting automation and streamlining administrative procedures applying for enterprises withgood compliance through many facilitation measures, such as processing information before shipment,enhancing application of risk management procedures and promoting post-clearance inspection measures. In addition, the programme of Authorised Economic Operator - a mechanism which give preferential treatment on customs clearance for compliance enterprises based on the history of commercial activitiesalso helps simplify the procedures, thereby attracting and promoting the large enterprises strengthen investment and trade activities.
In your opinion, what should the Customs do activities to make this work more effective?
Initial results show that ongoing initiatives and reforms proposed or implemented by the General Department of Customs have brought positive impacts on the business environment of enterprises. However, with the AEO programme, I think that it is necessary to expand the benefits from this program for good compliance enterprises but have not been qualified, especially small and medium enterprises. In addition, the application of automatic and risk-based selection methods for customs declaration documents for import and export goods will help minimise waiting time for goods release or clearance, including goods from the United States at seaports and airports. This also brings financial benefits to exporters by minimising costs and time.
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I also think that strengthening connection and consultation with private enterprises is a positive development, but there is still a lot to be done. Therefore, USAID's Trade Facilitation Project will work closely with the General Department of Customs, local Customs agencies and enterprises to further develop and strengthen Customs - Business partnerships, aiming to ensure favorable and effective deployment of trade facilitation reforms.
By Huong Diu/ Binh Minh