VietNamNet Bridge - Mismanagement and legal loopholes have both lent a hand to enterprises to illegally import prohibited waste.


The National Assembly’s Standing Committee convened a meeting on September 13 discussing the amendment of the Technology Transfer Law. 

At the meeting, National Assembly’s Chair Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan asked: “Will the new law be able to prevent the danger of Vietnam becoming the world’s dumping ground?”

Just two days later, Formosa Ha Tinh, a foreign invested enterprise, was found importing 160 tons of bauxite sludge and carbon aluminum sludge. How would Formosa treat the material sludge after using it?

He said chicken, she said duck

The Vung Ang Port Customs Agency affirmed that the bauxite sludge Formosa imported was a duty-free product found on the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s list of goods allowed to be imported.

Meanwhile, the ministry has said it would not allow imports of this kind of product.

Mismanagement and legal loopholes have both lent a hand to enterprises to illegally import prohibited waste.
Just one day after the ministry showed its official view, the Vung Ang Port customs agency showed quite a different view, opposite to the initial one. 

The agency said that the consignment of 160 tons of carbon aluminum and bauxite sludge imported from China was not found on the list of prohibited goods and not subject to quality examination. 

In other words, it believes that Formosa did not have to ask for permission from ministries and branches to import the sludge.

The inconsistent statements made by the customs agency have raised doubts that there exist legal loopholes for enterprises to import waste.

Le Dang Doanh, a renowned economist, said in other countries, bauxite sludge is listed as hazardous waste which must not be imported. Therefore, it is understandable why bauxite sludge is not named on the import ban list.

“It is necessary to clarify which imports were sludge or powder and thevmanagement mechanism,” Doanh said, warning that if the first import consignment goes smoothly, it may continue importing the product in the future.

He also asked MONRE to show reports about how to use bauxite sludge, where to use it and how to treat it after use.

Imports stuck at ports

A report of the Hai Phong City Customs Agency showed that the volume of goods backlogged at the port has been increasing in recent years. 

About 3,000 containers of goods have not been cleared though the time for customs procedures has expired. These include 2,000 containers of used rubber and tires.

A senior official of the Hai Phong Customs Agency said most of the uncleared imports are scrap materials with low value. The imports have been kept at the port for such a long time that the storage fee has exceeded the value of the imports.

Thanh Mai