Market Watchdog Vigilant in Market Probe and Control

3:43:23 PM | 9/6/2023

During 66 years of development, the market management force across the country has clearly demonstrated its leading role in market inspection and control, contributed to successful socioeconomic development goals in each period, and constantly endeavored to best perform all tasks assigned by the Party and the government.

The market watchdog ensures that inspection, examination, and sanctioning of administrative violations are deployed synchronously, promptly, and consistently from the central to local levels

Important milestones

On July 3, 1957, the Prime Minister issued Decree 290/TTg on the establishment of the Central Market Management Bureau and Market Management Boards of provinces, cities and autonomous regions throughout the country. This was the first milestone marking the birth of the market watchdog today. At that time, market management was not involved in directly inspecting, controlling, and handling violations of laws on commercial business in the market. Its core tasks included stabilizing the market, and protecting production and livelihoods of people in wartime in the north, thus giving a helping hand to southern liberation and national reunification.

On July 16, 1982, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers promulgated Decision 190/CP to establish the Central Steering Committee for Market Surveillance under the Council of Ministers to guide and direct market management. After the southern liberation, more people became merchants, many of whom evaded tax, speculated goods and committed trafficking. On November 23, 1982, the Council of Ministers issued Resolution 188/HDBT on strengthening socialist trade and market surveillance. Establishing a new socialist order in the market was an urgent task.

On October 2, 1985, the Council of Ministers adopted Resolution 249/HDBT on organizing a specialized market inspection and control force. Accordingly, market watchdog teams under provincial/municipal market surveillance authorities were formed. Since then, a standing force of market inspection and control was established across district-level areas throughout the country.

Carrying out the reform policy initiated by the 6th National Party Congress (1986), although the economy looked up, there were still a lot of difficulties. Smuggling and illegal business remained rampant. Before this reality, in August 1990, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers issued decisions to form Task Forces on Anti-Smuggling and Market Management in Northern and Southern provinces. The Northern Task Force was directly administered by the Chairman of the Council of Ministers. These task forces were organized into intersectoral task force working teams operated from time to time in certain areas to inspect, control, detect and promptly prevent smuggling.

On December 6, 1991, the Council of Ministers issued Decree 398/HDBT on the merger of the Central Steering Committee for Market Surveillance and Northern and Southern Special Task Forces into the Central Steering Committee for Market Surveillance, which was tasked to assist the Chairman of the Council of Ministers to unify market management direction, combat speculation, smuggling, production and trade of counterfeit goods and other illegal business acts.

On April 25, 1994, the Government adopted Decree 35/CP to assign the Ministry of Trade to unify market management direction nationwide and transfer the working apparatus of the Central Steering Committee for Market Surveillance to the Ministry of Trade. On January 23, 1995, the Government issued Decree 10/CP on tasks, powers and organizational system of market management, defining that market management was a specialized force, organized from central to district levels, to inspect and control the market, and fight against illegal commercial acts in the domestic market.

This important milestone marked the systematic organization of the country’s market management force from central to local levels. On January 3, 1996, the Politburo issued Resolution 12/NQ-TW on trade, which oriented the construction of market management forces according to formal requirements and more strict organization.

To reinforce coordination between central and local agencies, on August 27, 2001, the Prime Minister endorsed Decision 127/2001/QD-TTg to establish the Steering Committee for Combating Smuggling, Counterfeiting and Trade Fraud (Central Steering Committee 127), led by the Minister of Trade. The Market Surveillance Agency was assigned to assist the Central Steering Committee 127, and local market watchdogs were tasked to support Local Steering Committee 127.

During this time, the market watchdog assisted and advised the Steering Committee 127 at central and local levels and coordinated central and local agencies in the fight against smuggling, counterfeiting and trade fraud.

On March 8, 2016, the Standing Committee of the 13th National Assembly approved the Ordinance on Market Management. This was an important legal event of the market management force. Accordingly, the force, organized from central to local levels, was assigned to prevent, combat and handle smuggling, counterfeit manufacturing and trading, prohibited goods and goods of unknown origin, intellectual property rights infringement, violations of laws on quality, measurement, price, food safety and trade fraud, and violations of consumer protection laws.

New organizational model: Focus on unity in task performance

The market management apparatus in Vietnam is horizontally organized, consisting of market management branches under the Department of Industry and Trade of provinces and cities. This apparatus significantly contributed to stabilizing the domestic market. However, trade fraud, smuggling, counterfeiting and intellectual property violations developed more sophisticatedly and complicatedly. Violations were not only seen at commune, district, and provincial levels but had a wider scope: interprovincial, interregional and even international.

Realizing these existing shortcomings, on August 10, 2018, the Prime Minister endorsed Decision 34/2018/QD-TTg on functions, tasks, and organizational structure of the Vietnam Directorate of Market Surveillance (DMS) under the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Accordingly, DMS was vertically organized from central to local levels to ensure unified centralized direction and administration. As soon as it was established, under the direction of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Vietnam Directorate of Market Surveillance began to address shortcomings of the old organizational model that was fragmented and divided by locality. Besides, inspection, examination and sanctioning of administrative violations by the market watchdog are deployed synchronously, promptly and consistently from the central to local levels.

With the power of the new model, the Vietnam Directorate of Market Surveillance (DMS) attacked hotspots, assaulted counterfeiting chains and rings and smugglers that could never be done before. Many typical cases were unearthed in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Lang Son, Quang Ninh, An Giang, Binh Duong, Thanh Hoa and Tuyen Quang and were strictly handled by the market watchdog. According to the DMS, after five years of the new model, the market management force significantly promoted its role and made substantive changes in task performance to improve market surveillance and control.

Streamlining the apparatus does not weaken the key role in combating smuggling, trade fraud, and counterfeiting on the domestic market. Instead, it helps the market watchdog enhance its increasingly elite and professional role to attack well-established organizations, hubs, and centers of smuggling, counterfeiting, and knockoffs.

By Le Hien, Vietnam Business Forum