Vietnam, U.S. Sign Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement

11:40:47 AM | 12/12/2019

Recently, under the authorization of the Government of Vietnam and the United States Government, Deputy Minister of Finance Vu Thi Mai and Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Vietnam Caryn McClelland signed the Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA).

Based on comprehensive partnership between the two countries, with the aim of strengthening substantive cooperation between Vietnamese and U.S. customs authorities, in the context of international cooperation by Vietnamese customs authorities being increasingly expanded under international integration commitments in next-generation free trade agreements and with the expanded operational competence of Vietnam Customs under the Customs Law of 2014, the Ministry of Finance submitted to the Government for approval an open negotiation approach to the agreement that quite matched with the offer from the U.S. side and the approach was adopted by the government. Accordingly, from January 2017 to November 2018, the two parties conducted many negotiations and exchanges to reach consensus on agreement contents and completed internal procedures at the request of each party. By October 2019, the two sides completed internal procedures for the pact to be signed.

The Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement will provide the legal basis for forming official relationship and executing cooperation and mutual assistance between the two countries' customs authorities, and thus deepen bilateral comprehensive partnership.

The signing and enforcement of the pact is consistent with Vietnam's foreign policies on active integration into the world economy and is a measure to realize the Vietnamese Government’s commitment to trade facilitation in bilateral cooperation frameworks. Specifically, the signing of the agreement helps improve business environment and business development in the spirit of the Government's Resolutions 19/NQ-CP issued annually from 2014 to date.

This agreement is based on the model of administrative mutual assistance agreement in the customs field recommended by the World Customs Organization to its member customs agencies, which states scope of assistance and method of assistance for two customs authorities in the form of information exchange to prevent, detect, investigate and fight against customs law violations in the event that the two customs authorities perform their duties. The scope of assistance shall comply with national laws and regulations of each party and match the competence and available resources of each party’s customs authorities.

The signing and enforcement of the agreement with substantive cooperation will help protect legitimate rights and interests of the two business communities and facilitate bilateral merchandise trade. On the other hand, a regular and timely information exchange mechanism established after the enforcement of the pact will positively help fight against customs violations, trade fraud and illegal transport of goods, help collect enough fiscal revenue for the State budget, create a favorable, secure and safe environment for trade and business investment of the two countries and help boost socioeconomic development in each nation.

As the agreement is signed, both Vietnam and the United States will apply internal procedures for its enforcement. On that basis, the parties will exchange and agree on plans, roadmaps and ways to execute their commitments in the deal: Providing assistance in the form of information to ensure the enforcement of customs laws and the accurate calculation of customs duties and other taxes by each country's customs authorities; allowing the movement of illegal goods out of, in transit through, or into the territory of each party within its control, subject to mutual agreement on each specific case, including taking appropriate costs and resources into consideration; supplying and exchanging originals or certified copies of documents based on relevant laws of each party; inspecting, verifying, investing and clarifying customs violations or cooperating with the requesting party in investigating verification of customs violations, including allowing the requesting Party officials to be present at territory of the requested Party to assist in the fulfillment of the request.

Le Hien