October 16, 2019

Annual Dialogue Between EuroCham and Ho Chi Minh City Department of Customs on Implementation of the EVFTA

 

On the 9th of October, EuroCham and the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Customs successfully organised their “Annual Dialogue” with the theme of preparing for the implementation of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). The dialogue was attended by the leadership of EuroCham and the Customs Department as well as 240 members of EuroCham, Customs officials, and journalists.

Opening the Dialogue, Mr. Dinh Ngoc Thang, Director of HCMC DOC, reminded the audience that 2019 is the 4th year of continued collaboration between EuroCham and his department. He expressed his enthusiasm and appreciation of the chamber’s cooperation and support in facilitating trade and business relations between the EU and Vietnam as well as Ho Chi Minh City. Mr. Thang also briefed on the goals of Customs: to provide timely the guidance and support European businesses to understand and comply with policies and regulations and receive quick support from Customs authorities when needed. The Customs department has been very active in collecting feedback and recommendations from the business community in order to address and tackle their concerns, specifically for export-import management; import and specialized customs control; customs procedure and tax policies, etc. Customs’ quick support will help to reduce administrative barriers, decrease the costs and timing for the business community investing and trading in Vietnam. Mr. Thang continues to commit to further enhance the relationship and collaboration with EuroCham and the business community, modernize customs and introduce reforms for the international integration and trade.             

Speaking on behalf of EuroCham, Chairman Nicolas Audier expressed his appreciation to HCMC DOC for providing opportunities and close collaboration to better understand Vietnam’s customs procedures and being able to build a bridge between the Europe and Vietnam.
The Dialogue came at an important time: the EVFTA, which was signed in Hanoi on 30th June, 2019 should be ratified and implemented soon, following upcoming votes in the European Parliament and National Assembly of Vietnam. Once this historic agreement enters into force, it will unlock a new wave of investment from European enterprises keen to take advantage of reduced tariffs and increased access Vietnam’s fast-growing market. Many companies have already moved to Vietnam in anticipation of this, and more will soon follow in their footsteps.

Beside reduction in tariffs and barriers to trade, the EVFTA includes specific commitments on customs and trade facilitation through the modernisation and simplification of customs procedures. These commitments include regular consultations between customs authorities and stakeholders. EuroCham is committed to supporting this objective and working with customs authorities in Vietnam, particularly the HCMC Customs Department, to make sure these obligations EVFTA are met.

EuroCham also welcomes Customs “Plan 1010” on applying a one-time consultation mechanism for a list of 500 compliant businesses and the “customs clearance at wharf” procedure, in which qualified containers do not have to be discharged into a container yard for customs clearance. Eurocham Chairman believes that such bold and positive moves will increase the confidence of businesses in their operation in HCMC in particular and in Vietnam in general.
 

In the discussion panel, EuroCham and DOC leaders discussed opportunities and challenges of the EVFTA as well as tacking requirements for both EU and Vietnamese companies to enter into their respective markets. Mr. Dinh Ngoc Thang updated that HCMC DOC hasCustoms now is focusing on the removal of barriers in the customs clearance for goods to best serve the business community.
 
Mr. Nguyen Huu Nghiep, Deputy Director of HCMC DOC also mentioned that Vietnam is gradually reforming its legal institutions in line with international law. The signing of the new Agreement is just the beginning of a new journey in the near future that will bring practical benefits to both people and businesses.
The field of goods origin and intellectual property are the two areas where Vietnamese enterprises need to firmly study and know the laws of the Member States in the European Union. At present, Customs has popularized documents on methods and tricks of counterfeiting origin, intellectual property infringements and fraud. Mr. Nghiep also hoped that the business community will also carefully study the rules of origin of goods and intellectual property in order to avoid mistakes when exporting goods to the European market as well as importing into the Vietnamese market.
 
Vice-Chairman Jean Jacques Bouflet said that Vietnamese companies should pay attention to the aspects while entering EU markets such as EU’s technical norms and requirements for Sanitary and Phytosanitary standards as well as environmental protection.  Besides, the EVFTA entails a full chapter on sustainability and Vietnam should be commended for being in the forefront of developing countries for fighting for sustainability. Complying with environment protection and fighting against illegal trade; goods’ origin and traceability (production and processing chain) and following IPRs protection; engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); building shared values and contributing to the society will also be considered for doing businesses sustainably.
 
Vietnamese companies need to also enhance human resource qualification and ensure effectiveness, so the implementation of the commitments under EVFTA, labour and social conditions for workers will be very important.
 
Assessing the works with Central Government and Customs authorities, Vice-Chairman Nguyen Hai Minh shared that EuroCham cooperation with the Ministry of Finance and General Department of Customs as well as HCMC Customs Department has been very effective. The EuroCham Board, Sector Committees (including Transport & Logistics Sector Committee) and members are very happy, and appreciate Customs’ openness and efforts to continue simplifying administrative procedures and facilitating a friendlier and more effective business environment.
 
EuroCham is also working as active members of the Advisory Council for Administrative Procedure Reform of the Prime Minister, along with other partners, to contribute to the reforms and reducing administrative procedures both in terms of tax and customs. The chamber is also expanding its network with other provinces to further promote the EVFTA and provide our members with opportunities to interact and work closely with local Customs authorities.

In the Q&A session chaired by EuroCham Chairman Nicolas Audie, Vice-Chairman Nguyen Hai Minh and HCMC DOC leaders, over 40 questions from EuroCham members were addressed by the HCM DOC and Department of Export/Import Tax. Eurocham will continue to follow up to work with HCMC and other specialized agencies to jointly address these issues and follow-up through meetings and workshops in the upcoming time.

 

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