Customs Proposes Amending Law on Border Protection to Facilitate Business Community

1:05:29 PM | 18/11/2020

The General Department of Customs (GDC) recently made recommendations on the draft Law on Border Protection at a meeting hosted by the National Defense and Security Committee, attended by the Judicial Committee and the Law Committee of the National Assembly and the law-compiling body. Based on the scope of the meeting, GDC proposed some contents for the draft that are expected to provide more favorable conditions for businesses.

Specifically, in Clause 5 of Article 14 and Clause 2 of Article 15, the latest draft illustrates duties of the Border Guard of controlling entry and exit and controlling cross-border mobility. This regulation does not limit the scope and entities subject to entry and exit control. This can be interpreted that the Border Guard can inspect, control and handle means of transport even in the border gate area (the customs territory). According to the General Department of Customs, this leads to overlapping functions and duties of customs authorities that are specified in the Law on Customs 2014.

The Law on Customs stipulates that, in the customs authority, customs authorities shall be primarily responsible for inspecting, supervising and controlling all means of transport on entry/exit, imports and exports to prevent smuggling and illegal transportation of drugs, weapons, toxins, explosives and reactionary documents to ensure economic security and national defense and security within their jurisdiction specified in export and import laws.

Customs authorities said, if the draft Law on Border Protection with the above provisions is passed, there will be two agencies (customs authorities and border guard) jointly inspecting, supervising and controlling one vehicle on entry/exit.

This is not consistent with the Party policy, international commitments and current legal regulations and troubles importing and exporting activity and transport means in transit. It is not consistent with Vietnam’s commitments to international treaties. Chapter 6 of the 1999 International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs (Vietnam is a party to the Convention) states “All goods, including means of transport, which enter or leave the customs territory, regardless of whether they are liable to duties and taxes, shall be subject to customs control.

Appendix 8 of the Agreement between Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam on cross-border transport facilitation states “when a vehicle in transit enters the host country it must submit the vehicle temporary import document to customs authorities to carry out procedures for vehicle inspection and control” and does not state the competence of the Border Guard.

Practically, in all countries in the world, customs authorities inspect, supervise and control means of transport, baggage on entry and exit, and imported and exported goods.

The Politburo’s Resolution 18-NQ/TW dated October 25, 2017 on continued renovation and rearrangement of streamlined and effective organizational apparatus of the political system emphasizes the solution of “Reviewing, supplementing and completing functions, duties, powers and working relations among political organizations and addressing overlapping duplications and replications for an organization or a person to handle many things but a job is led and held responsibility by only one organization or one person”. Accordingly, the overlapping inspection will result in more administrative procedures, longer service time, troubles and more cost for businesses.

By Huong Hau, Vietnam Business Forum