Further Advancing Administrative Reform and Modernization to Facilitate Businesses

11:39:27 AM | 2/4/2021

Vietnam Business Forum has an interview with Mr. Nguyen Van Can, General Director of the General Department of Vietnam Customs, on difficulties of the pandemic time and the sector’s goals for better service for the business community. Le Hien reports.


Could you please briefly introduce the outstanding achievements of the customs sector in 2020, especially exporter and importer facilitation amid Covid-19 pandemic outbreak?

In 2020, the General Department of Vietnam Customs submitted to competent authorities for the promulgation of 12 legal documents and continued to improve the National Single Window (NSW), the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) and trade facilitation. As of December 15, 2020, the NSW had 207 administrative procedures officially provided by 13 ministries and branches, handling more than 3.5 million records filed by more than 43,460 businesses. On the ASW, in 2020, Vietnam officially exchanged electronic C/O, Form D with nine ASEAN countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and the Philippines. As of December 15, 2020, Vietnam received 247,858 certificates of origin from ASEAN countries and sent 313,859 C/O to other countries.

We always closely followed the direction of the Government and the Steering Committee for Disease Control in each period to actively advise and implement many solutions to deal with emerging difficulties and support importers and exporters. We timely issued instructive documents on the settlement of glitches arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, on immigration procedures to quickly relieve entry passengers at airports; ensured the quantity of masks and equipment for disease prevention on flights; implemented fast customs clearance for goods, especially aid for pandemic prevention, exported masks, imported and exported medical equipment for pandemic prevention, and rice export. At the same time, we promoted the export of Vietnamese agricultural products and facilitated the import of input materials, machinery and equipment for production; directly coordinated in customs clearance and settlement of stagnant goods at border gates; proactively reviewed current regulations for better change; proactively reviewed, formulated and advised all levels to issue legal documents to facilitate businesses to import and export goods.

How about your budget collection in 2020?

The year 2020 witnessed a sharp drop in import and export duties due to the complicated evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic, the continued international economic integration in general and the enforcement of free trade agreements (FTAs) like Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which took effect from January 14, 2019, and the EU - Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which pledged to eliminate 86% of tariff lines and merchandise import turnover, effective from February 2020.

In 2020, we were assigned to collect VND338 trillion for the State Budget according to Decision 2503/QD-BTC of the Ministry of Finance dated November 29, 2019. The customs collected an estimation of VND315 trillion in 2020, equal to 93.2% of the plan and up 5% from the previous year (VND300 trillion) reported at the National Assembly and down 9.3% from 2019 (VND347.92 trillion).

In the first 11 months of 2020, the pandemic, natural disasters and floods seriously affected the State budget collection assigned to the customs sector. Right from the first months of 2020, the General Director of the General Department of Vietnam Customs issued Directive 1040/CT-TCHQ on implementation of State budget revenue tasks in 2020 and assigned tasks to local customs agencies.

On the other hand, the customs sector actively accelerated administrative reform to facilitate enterprises to boost import and export. By the end of November 2020, the tax revenue collected through commercial banks accounted for 98.4% of the total tax revenue of the customs sector.

As a standing agency of the National Steering Committee on ASEAN Single Window, National Single Window and Trade Facilitation, could you tell us the achievements and difficulties in coordination with ministries and agencies to carry out administrative procedures on the National Single Window?

The National Single Window (NSW) and the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) were launched by the General Department of Vietnam Customs in accordance with the Government's Resolution 02/NQ-CP dated January 1, 2020 on the continued implementation of key tasks and solutions for the better business environment and national competitiveness in 2020. The NSW and the ASW helped reduce paperwork, time and cost of carrying out import and export administrative procedures, fundamentally change the mode of management; foster e-Government development, improve the quality and efficiency of State agencies' operations, and better serve the people and businesses.

We well performed our role as a standing agency of the National Steering Committee on ASW, NSW and Trade Facilitation; effectively performed our tasks as a lead government agency responsible for implementing the NSW and the ASW; developed and implemented the Project “Reforming quality inspection, food safety inspection form for imported goods” as per Resolution 99/NQ-CP. The project included seven major reforms: Assigning customs authorities to lead quality inspection, food safety inspection for imported goods; applying three methods of inspection to reduce consignments subject to inspection (tight inspection, normal inspection and reduced inspection); and simplifying test procedures, among others.

Currently, the deployment of the single-window mechanism still faces some difficulties. Specifically, the system of legal documents on administrative procedures related to export, import and international transportation has not been thoroughly reviewed to ensure uniformity and consistency when put into practice on the NSW. The information technology infrastructure of coordinating agencies is asynchronous and incomplete. Investment procedures in information technology infrastructure construction are still complicated. Therefore, it is difficult and challenging to coordinate with ministries and agencies to conduct administrative procedures on the NSW in the coming time.

However, Vietnam entered into many new-generation free trade agreements such as EVFTA and CPTTP with higher requirements and full compliance with international commitments to tariffs, market opening and intellectual property. Besides, realizing the goal of modernizing and reforming customs procedures, applying information technology of the Fourth Industrial Revolution also raises urgent requirements for the customs sector to simultaneously, drastically and effectively perform the task of facilitating trade and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of State customs management. Therefore, in 2021, in addition to State budget collection, the General Department of Customs is resolved to reform administrative procedures, modernize the customs system to boost trade facilitation, reduce the time and cost of goods clearance.

In addition, we will focus resources on reforming specialized inspection and trade facilitation in accordance with Decision 1254/QD-TTg and Decision 1258/QD-TTg of the Prime Minister; and carry out the Project on quality inspection and food safety inspection mode reform for imported goods. According to an independent assessment by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), reforming inspection methods under this project will help businesses import goods subject to quality inspection and food safety inspection reduce costs of VND881 billion (US$37.8 million) a year thanks to fewer days required. We will also further apply information technology to customs management, especially urgently carrying out the Project on redesigning the overall information technology system of the customs sector and putting it into official operation, thus helping information technology ensure the smooth, secure and safe development of the NSW and the ASW.

Source: Vietnam Business Forum