Deputy PM works with World Bank on trade facilitation

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017 08:46

Goods loaded at Hai Phong Port. Developing the logistics infrastructure system is a priority for the Vietnamese Government. – VNA/VNS Photo Lam Khanh

Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue worked with the World Bank on Monday to discuss trade facilitation, logistics development and the national single window mechanism.

World Bank experts said that Viet Nam needs to build four pillars: completing the legal framework for trade facilitation, improving trade logistics infrastructure and connectivity, developing a competitive logistics sector and enhancing public-private cooperation.

Sebastian Eckardt, Lead Economist for the World Bank in Viet Nam, said that Southeast Asian countries needed to build a logistic value chain. Building expressways alone is not enough, he said, adding that goods could still be jammed at border gates or ports. Sebastian stressed that improving logistics connectivity is of significant importance.

Transportation has not kept up with needs for the country’s development, according to the World Bank expert. Challenges include higher growth of goods volume than GDP growth and the development of infrastructure system.

The World Bank cited the Ministry of Industry and Trade statistics showing that demand for investment in transport infrastructure was estimated at US$24 billion in 2016-20 period while the Government’s budget could meet around $8 billion.

The Government should raise private investments to make up for the shortage, and most importantly, to improve the infrastructure operation efficiency with the participation of the private sector, experts said.

Another problem was that up to 41 per cent of Vietnamese logistics services providers are small. Viet Nam has significant opportunities to develop logistics services, the World Bank said, adding that the National Single Window Steering Committee should be involved in trade facilitation and logistics development and the participation of the private sector into the committee should be encouraged.

Of note, the World Bank will also help fund technical support programmes that promote trade facilitation, logistics and single window mechanism in Viet Nam.

Hue said those were prioritised sectors by the Vietnamese Government to move towards international standards and practices and cut costs for businesses.

The country has focused on developing the road and railway system from the North to the South, while little attention had been paid to the East-West connection and marine transport, Hue said.

Hue hopes that the World Bank will study this issue and provide consultancies to the Vietnamese Government.

The Deputy PM said that the Government will call for private investments through public-private partnerships in infrastructure development and specialised checks on imported and exported products.

“Ministries should only focus on building procedures while implementation should be carried out by the private sector,” Hue said.

Regarding trade facilitation, the World Bank said that cutting costs is main administrative reform that the Vietnamese Government must strive for. However, it is critical to boost efficiency.

Customs clearance procedures still account for 76 per cent of the total import time, and procedures are mainly of three ministries: Industry and Trade, Agriculture and Rural Development and Health, the World Bank said, adding that these ministries must make greater effort to simplify procedures and to improve the national competitiveness. Specialised checks on imported and exported products are still a problem. — VNS

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