A conference to review Vietnamese laws on its commitments to the EU–Việt Nam Free Trade Agreements (EVFTA) and transparency heard many opinions on how to create favourable conditions for enterprises.
Many delegates said that the review only worked on custom procedures, but without checking other specialised documents.
Phạm Thị Thanh Hiền, former Deputy Director of the General Department of Việt Nam Customs’s International Cooperation Department, praised the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)’s review of the regulations of Vietnamese law and EVFTA commitments to propose adjustments as needed.
Hiền said the commitments to EVFTA not only referred to customs, but also trade.
"Therefore, there should be participation by relevant agencies such as the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Ministry of Finance," Hiền said at the conference held yesterday in Hà Nội by VCCI.
According to Phạm Thanh Bình, an expert on customs, the main obstacle to the current clearance of goods by customs was specialised tests performed, as these accounted for 72 per cent of the time it took customs to clear goods.
Bình said that specialised testing procedures are implemented with every shipment at the time of customs clearance of goods. "This is the main reason leading to long clearance times," Bình said.
EVFTA requires that the Vietnamese Government ensure safeguards against fraud and other damaging activities. However, many agricultural products receive their specialised inspection results only after they have been consumed, Nguyễn Thị Thu Trang, director of the WTO and Integration Centre under the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said at the conference.
“It shows that we haven’t complied with the commitments towards EVFTA”, said Trang.
To solve these problems, Trang suggested boosting administrative reforms to comply with the commitments to EVFTA, as well as to benefit Vietnamese companies.
Lack of information online
Việt Nam currently doesn’t have a website that announces the laws on customs and other related commercial laws, Hiền said at the conference.
Curently, enterprises found it very difficult to access an official website that provides information about regulations on customs and trade. They have to visit individual agency websites such as the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Industry and Trade to search for information, she said.
She suggested building a website to publish the latest information on customs and trade to help firms easily check updated local laws and regulations.
In addition, there is a need of training courses for public employees to improve their skills and experience, said Nguyễn Hoàng Ánh, a lecturer from the Foreign Trade University.
Ánh said that the Government should have documents that specify the responsibilities of customs officers.
The EVFTA was signed by Việt Nam and the European Union in December 2015. It is one of two new trade agreements which are forecast to have a great impact on the country’s legal regulations and the economy.
The agreement is expected to come into effect in 2018.