The potential impacts of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) on Vietnam’s businesses and customs-business partnerships were among the issues discussed at a workshop on customs procedure reform on November 4 in Ho Chi Minh City.
HCMC Customs Department operates automatic e-customs clearance system__Photo: Internet
Nguyen Toan, director of the Vietnam Customs’ International Cooperation Department, said that the TFA, which Vietnam signed in 2013, was an agreement binding on all WTO members that seeks to simplify customs procedures, balance facilitation and law compliance, set an effective cooperation mechanism for customs authorities and between customs and other agencies, and promote technology application.
The agreement covers many aspects like transparency and rights of businesses, goods in transit, and procedures, charges and fees imposed on or in connection with import, export and transit.
It would provide assistance to developing and least developed countries in updating their infrastructure, training customs officials, and meeting other costs associated with realization of the agreement.
Tran Huu Huynh, Chairman of the International Trade Advisory Committee, WTO Center, at the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said the TFA was a blueprint for reforming customs procedures and bringing practical benefits to the economy.
It would help businesses reduce customs clearance time and costs and raise their competitiveness to boost exports and expand markets, he said, citing that one day’s reduction in the customs clearance time could save USD 1.6 billion for businesses.
The TFA would simplify customs and import/export procedures, speed up supply chains, and reduce corruption, said Herb Cochran, executive director of Amcham Vietnam, suggesting small- and medium-sized enterprises in Vietnam and other developing countries be encouraged to participate in international trade.
The workshop would help businesses understand the country’s TFA commitments and benefits, and they could work with customs to implement the agreement in the most effective way, said Tran Ngoc Liem, deputy director of VCCI’s Ho Chi Minh City chapter.-