A reduction in the number of procedures and that of imports and exports subject to specialized inspections requires further reviews to facilitate trade, said Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue.
|Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue speaks at the conference in Hanoi on May 13 – PHOTO: VGP|
Held by the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee, the conference was aimed at assessing solutions to the reform of specialized inspections and the reduction in customs clearance time, reported the Vietnam News Agency.
Since 2015, the Standing Board of the VFF Central Committee and relevant organizations have worked together to oversee the execution of measures whose aims are to improve the business environment and the national competitiveness in the taxation and customs sectors.
One of the bottlenecks that are in need of removal is unnecessary specialized inspection procedures in customs clearance, according to the committee’s president Tran Thanh Man.
There have been signs of improvement in specialized inspections, Man said, noting that 126 customs procedures were integrated into the National Single Window (NSW) and the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) in 2018.
These systems enable traders to submit regulatory documents at a single location and/or single entity. Such documents are typically customs declarations, applications for import and export permits, and other supporting documents such as certificates of origin and trading invoices.
Over the last four years, a staggering 97% of procedures have been connected with the single window mechanism. This rate is expected to be up to 100% by the end of this year.
Meanwhile, the rate of goods undergoing specialized inspections has been slashed from 35% of the total export and import volume to around 19% within three recent years.
However, more than 70,000 kinds of products were still subject to specialized inspections as of March this year while only a modest 12,611 others were excluded.
Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue, who also serves as the head of the National Steering Committee for ASW, NSW and Trade Facilitation, pointed out that the reduction of specialized procedures is not substantive.
He continued that the satisfaction rate among businesses is low and the number of firms joining the NSW and ASW is still modest. Also, the fight against trade fraud has yet to be aligned with trade facilitation.
Hue said many imports and exports are still subject to overlapping inspections conducted by many units of a ministry or even by different ministries.
Some ministries and agencies have issued the lists of products in need of inspections, but they have introduced neither harmonized system (HS) codes, an internationally standardized system of names and numbers to classify traded products, nor goods standards and criteria.
The involvement of the private sector in specialized inspections remains limited while the coordination among ministries requires improvement. Additionally, ASW connections are jammed during peak times, hence affecting the operations of businesses.
He said that Vietnam is one of three regional countries most dedicated to implementing the NSW and ASW. When it takes on its role as ASEAN Chair in 2020, the Government will promote this work as a key task to connect and develop regional trade.
The senior leader cited the Government’s Resolution No.2 as saying that trade facilitation needs to be in line with the prevention of trade fraud, so he also asked relevant State agencies to review the relevance in the reduction of specialized procedures in the customs sector.
“Those procedures and inspections that are deemed unreasonable need removal. For procedures and import inspections where reductions are not necessary nor justified, any such moves to cut down on their numbers need reviews. It is impossible to open the nation’s door (in such cases),” he said.
He noted that an additional 10 items of imports in some key sectors such as the health industry are subject to specialized inspections since they are related to the national security and the healthcare of the people.
He added if the reduction of specialized procedures is carried out in a mechanical manner, it is likely to be taken advantage of by certain interest groups. “This is a two-sided issue which requires due consideration,” he said.
He asked the Standing Board of the VFF Central Committee to monitor the performance of not only State agencies and public employees, but also businesses.
He also told the Ministry of Finance, the General Department of Vietnam Customs, and relevant agencies to boost the private sector’s investment in providing equipment for specialized inspections in an effort to cut costs for both the State and the business community. SGT