Promoting Technical Assistance for Trade Facilitation Program

9:57:19 AM | 9/9/2019

The General Department of Vietnam Customs recently worked with representatives of some ministries and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to promote the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Program (TFP) with a focus on improving specialized inspection of import and exports.

TFP, funded by USAID, was approved by the Prime Minister in Decision 623/QD-TTg dated May 24, 2019. Under this decision, the Ministry of Finance is the manager of the project and the Customs Department is assigned to implement it.

TFP aims to reform, standardize, harmonize and streamline import and export administrative procedures to conform with the international standards as committed by Vietnam in the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (WTO TFA) and the Government’s policies in customs reforms. “The main objective of the project is to facilitate trade in accordance with Vietnam’s current needs. One of the most important components of the project is to reform import and export specialized inspection, enhance the National Single Window (NSW), which requires inter-sectoral cooperation among relevant ministries and agencies,” said Deputy Director General Mai Xuan Thanh of the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

The nearly US$22 million project will be implemented in five years. At the meeting, a USAID expert said Vietnam has become one of the most open economies in the world in the last two decades. However, inadequacies in clearance procedures of goods are hindering the country’s trade competitiveness. Specialized inspection is part of customs clearance procedures carried out by various ministries and branches. Specialized inspection involves many ministries and industries which has caused significant delays in goods clearance, raising costs for small- and medium-sized enterprises. Therefore, TFP aims to support Vietnamese customs and specialized inspection agencies to adopt and implement a risk management approach, which will strengthen the implementation of the WTO FTA Agreement. This will also help Vietnam achieve its development goals while reducing trade time and costs.

The USAID representative said that USAID wants to cooperate with the General Department of Customs and governmental agencies to achieve substantive results in aligning and streamlining customs clearance procedures (on exports and imports) and fostering an effective coordination among central and local authorities in enforcing trade facilitation policies.

According to the National Steering Committee for ASEAN Single Window (ASW), National Single Window (NSW) and Trade Facilitation (or briefly called Committee 1899), in 2015, 13 ministries and sectors issued lists of 82,698 goods subject to specialized inspection. In particular, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development had the largest number of 65,185 items, accounting for nearly 79% of the country’s total. Other ministries with high numbers of specialized inspection requirements include Ministry of Health, (5,730 items), the Ministry of Industry and Trade (5,096 items), the Ministry of Science and Technology (3,434 items), the Ministry of Transport (1,433 items) and the Ministry of Information and Communications (1,034 items).

According to data updated to April 2019, the list of goods subject to specialized inspection decreased to 70,087. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development still took the lead with 7,623 items.