VTIP – TOOL FOR TRADE FACILITATION
VCN- The establishment of the Vietnam Trade Information Portal (VTIP) does not only meets Vietnam’s commitments under Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO), but also is an effective tool to further facilitate the parties relating to import and export and transit operations with Vietnam.
Customs officers of Port Border Gate Customs Branch (Nghe An Customs Department) supervise import and export goods Photo: H.Nu
Strong promotion from Customs
According to the World Bank’s recent business environment report for 2017, Vietnam rose 9 places to the 82nd rank out of 190 economies. Particularly for the cross-border trade index relating to import-export operations; Customs clearance; and regulations on specialized inspection, Vietnam increased 15 places, from the 108th rank in 2016 to the 93rd in 2017. Compared to other countries in the ASEAN region, Vietnam is in the top four countries in the business environment. However, compared to countries with favorable business environment such as Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, the gap between Vietnam and these countries is still quite large. Therefore, the Government Resolution 19-2017/NQ-CP set a target for Vietnam for 2017- 2020 to strive to reach a level at least equal to the average of ASEAN- 4 countries on the criteria of improving the business environment.
The representative of International Cooperation Department (General Department of Vietnam Customs) said that in order to implement the provisions of law as well as international commitments, in the recent time the Customs has gradually completed the legal system during the negotiation of TFAs or new FTAs. Besides, the Customs regularly organizes consultations and dialogues to solve problems of the business community; Comprehensive application of modern information technology in Customs procedures such as implementation of VNACCS/VCIS nationwide; Pilot implementation of supervision system at seaports; Connection between the Customs and Treasury, and Bank to simplify Customs procedures, facilitate businesses. In addition, the Customs also actively coordinate with ministries and sectors to implement administrative procedures for export and import goods on the Single Window, thereby creating maximum conditions for business activities, export and import of enterprises.
In addition, the Customs abandoned 19 procedures and simplified 46 procedures; Reduced many Customs documents; Allowed enterprises to submit electronic dossiers; publicized and reduced time to examine Customs dossier and physical inspection. In particular, the General Department of Vietnam Customs collaborated with the WB to develop VTIP to provide a complete and comprehensive reference source of information relating to import and export, the tariffs applied to import goods and details of process and procedures and forms to meet specialized inspection requirements. The purpose of VTIP is to help exporters, especially small and medium size enterprises know the process and procedures relating to their operations, thus saving time and operating expenses. In addition, VTIP will also play as an important role in assisting the Government towards simplifying and legalizing relevant administrative procedures.
Ready for operation
As chair of the negotiation of the TFA (approved in Bali, Indonesia in November 2014), the Ministry of Finance specifically the General Department of Vietnam Customs submitted to the National Assembly for ratification of the revised Protocol at the 10th session of the 13th National Assembly on November 26, 2015. On November 26, 2015 the National Assembly issued Resolution No.108/2015/QH13 approving of the Protocol to amend the Marrakesh Agreement to establish the WTO. In October 2016, the Prime Minister issued Decision No. 1899 /QD-TTg on the establishment of the National Steering Committee for ASEAN Single Window, National Single Window and Trade Facilitation (Referred to as the National Steering Committee). In November, 2016 the Government issued the Action Plan to implement the TFA under Decision No.1969/ QD-TTg. On February 22, 2017 the WTO’s TFA took effect after being approved by two-thirds of the 164 WTO member countries.
As committed in the TFA, each member country, including Vietnam, needs to build a website to publicize and provide information. The development of this website not only meets Vietnam’s commitments under the TFA but also is an effective tool to further facilitate the parties relating to export, import and transit operations with Vietnam. It is also a tool to publicize policies as well as in international commitments that Vietnam joints and keep with the trend of World Customs – digital Customs 2016.
In order to help Vietnam implement well the commitments in the TFA, the WB supported Vietnam’s Government to establish and improve capacity of the National Steering Committee and build VTIP. The development of the VTIP has carried out since January 2016 at the General Department of Vietnam Customs and being consulted by PM Group under the WB. Currently, contents have been posted, with nearly 2,000 contents relating to legal regulations, process and procedures and export and import operations. In parallel with the development and posting the contents, the consultancy unit trained for officers of the General Department of Vietnam Customs to transfer technology to ensure the operation and update VTIP’s contents after the transfer, said by Mr. Chris Lewis Jones, the Head of Project Consulting and Management Team of VTIP.
In order to be ready for the opening and transferring the VTIP to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, to be expected to implement in early June 2017, preparations are being urgently completed. Coordination mechanisms among relevant parties, including ministries and sectors which have regulations relating to import and export operations published on the VTIP, are being developed and agreed among the parties to ensure that the contents posted on the VTIP are always updated and accurate. Currently, a review of the content posted on VTIP is being conducted by ministries and sectors under the direction of the General Department of Vietnam Customs to prepare the opening, said by Mr. Chris Lewis Jones.
Mr. Chris Lewis Jones added, “VTIP is designed to be one Single Window information post, providing information relating to Vietnam’s export and import in a accessible, logical and useful way for importers and exporters to access basic information about the necessary regulations and procedures for import and export and transit. VTIP is a useful tool to assist the Government and other relevant parties in reducing, modernizing and simplifying the import and export declaration procedures in line with international practices. With rich and comprehensive contents, VTIP is expected to save time and expense for importers and exporters in particular and contribute to facilitating and promoting Vietnam’s trade growth in general.
By Hong Nu/Ngoc Loan