Vietnam Customs Boosts Cooperation in Int’l Law Enforcement

3:45:53 PM | 9/6/2023

Mr. Luu Manh Tuong, Deputy General Director of the General Department of Vietnam Customs, recently received and worked with Mr. Ryan McKean, Director of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) at the United States Embassy in Hanoi. At the working session, Mr. Tuong hoped that the two sides would further strengthen cooperation to foster antidrug and international law enforcement.

In recent years, INL has expanded its cooperation with Vietnam Customs, starting with support within the framework of the Container Control Program of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Global Maritime Crime Program (GMCP) in collaboration with UNODC, and the Global Rapid Interdiction of Dangerous Substances (GRIDS) Program in cooperation with the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). In September 2022, INL proposed cooperating directly with Vietnam Customs by assisting with technical training to improve the capacity for domestic and international maritime law enforcement officers of the Anti-smuggling and Investigation Department.

Since September 2022, INL has supported Vietnam Customs to conduct nine training courses on maritime law enforcement with the participation of 154 officers. The content of training courses has mainly focused on inspection skills on vessels for enforcement officers and training in techniques, logistics, and administration for officers performing these works.

During the meeting, Deputy General Director Luu Manh Tuong stated that Vietnam’s marine economy has experienced strong growth in recent years, with annualized growth of 8-10%. In 2022 alone, the turnover hit over US$700 billion. Despite the rapid growth in turnover, it also poses many challenges for Vietnam Customs in facilitating trade and controlling and enforcing specialized laws for imports and exports.

In particular, Vietnam Customs faces many new methods of goods trafficking, tricks, and cross-border smuggling of international organizations, especially banned goods such as drugs and goods listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Over the past time, boosted by the support of INL in equipment and training to improve the capacity of officers performing this work, Vietnam Customs has developed specialized projects related to foreign crime rings. Therefore, Vietnam Customs will cooperate with other countries and international agencies to enhance crime prevention capacity. It also hopes to receive cooperation from INL to strictly control offenses in trade with countries around the world.

In addition to direct cooperation with Vietnam Customs, INL is one of the financial partners in the framework of programs participated by Vietnam. In 2021, INL funded a sub-project worth US$ 400,000 to Vietnam Customs within the framework of the UNODC Container Control Program by assisting the supportive equipment for customs control of Port Control Units (PCUs) such as Hazmat ID and TRUNARC for identification of suspected drugs, and the XyloTron machine used for identification of wood species. INL also organized training courses to instruct PCUs in using the equipment at the UN Laboratory in Austria.

Director Ryan McKean stated that the cooperation between the two sides has improved since the visit of the leader of Vietnam Customs. Therefore, INL hopes to further strengthen the anti-smuggling and trade fraud between the two sides.

He emphasized that high-tech, drug crimes and law enforcement at sea pose common global challenges. Multinational criminal groups take advantage of seaports to commit fraud and smuggle banned items such as drugs, wildlife and timber. Meanwhile, customs authorities are in charge of control and law enforcement in commercial activities. Notably, the country has experienced soaring growth in turnover, especially wood turnover with the US market. Therefore, INL hopes to strengthen cooperation with Vietnam Customs to promote further anti-drug and international law enforcement in the coming time.

By Hien Phuc, Vietnam Business Forum