TFA execution sub-par: experts

Friday, Mar 31, 2017 09:47

Customs officers check imported cartons in the southern province of Long An. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoang Hung

There is basic compatibility between provisions of the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and Vietnamese laws, but implementation has been inadequate, experts say.

Nguyen Toan, director of the International Co-operation Department under the General Department of Customs (GDS), said that Viet Nam has to create an efficient inter-sectoral mechanism that can make needed regulatory improvements and allow strict implementation of TFA provisions.

He said the TFA was the most crucial document formulated for facilitating international trade, with more than 100 WTO members as signatories.

The agreement can facilitate simplification of export procedures, step up trade co-operation and foster technology transfer, he added.

It would make customs clearance and release of goods easier and faster for both domestic and foreign businesses, he said.

However, there is still some way to go before the TFA is properly adhered to in Viet Nam, said Au Anh Tuan, deputy head of customs control and supervision division at the GDS.

He said the present set of legal documents and regulations in Viet Nam is basically compatible with TFA standards, but execution has been poor.

Tuan attributed the poor performance to an inability to realise the benefits that accrue from the removal of red tape, insufficient capabilities of civil servants and interest groups vested in the status-quo.

“The customs sector in Viet Nam has achieved significant results in modernising our policies before and after the TFA took effect.

“Despite this, we have yet to fulfill all our commitments for a variety of reasons, including an overwhelming burden on the customs sector that has to accomplish many tasks with limited authority and resources,” Toan said.

He also listed several other “subjective factors” hindering TFA implementation, including constantly changing needs to control the supply chain, production methods, transportation and commerce.

Ultimately, these factors have created numerous challenges for businesses looking to pass through any border, in and out, he said.

Pham Minh Duc, senior economist for the World Bank in Viet Nam, also shared these opinions.

Administrative regulations relating to permission, certification and border control take up to 76 per cent of total export and import time, whereas the actual process of examination and customs clearance is only 19 per cent before goods can enter or leave the Vietnamese border, he said.

Therefore, Duc stressed, focusing solely on improving customs regulations would not be enough to facilitate trade.

The process of increasing the TFA’s role in Viet Nam requires the entire political regime, administrative system and entrepreneur community working efficiently together, he said.

The TFA has been in effect since February 22, 2017. By fully complying with its regulations, members hope to bring down trading fees by about 14.3 per cent and increase global commerce by US$1 trillion per year. — VNS

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