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VN businesses face challenges competing in ASEAN market

Update: August, 12/2015 - 08:45
Customs employees test samples at the Viet Nam General Department of Customs' Goods Export-Import Analysis and Classification Centre. By the end of the year, the Department of Customs plans to reduce the time spent on export customs procedures to 13 working days and 14 working days for imports. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoang Hung

HA NOI (VNS) — Experts yesterday expressed doubts about Viet Nam's ability to ease its business environment to the average level of doing business in ASEAN-6 by the end of the year.

They were discussing targets set by Government Resolution No 19/NQ-CP on improving the business environment and national competitiveness in 2015 and 2016 by reducing costs, time and risks involved .

By the end of this year, the Department of Customs plans to reduce time spent on export customs procedures to 13 working days and to 14 working days for imports.

Nguyen Dinh Cung, director of the Central Institute for Economic Management, said customs had been very progressive in reviewing more than 300 administrative documents for adjustment.

There were documents that hindered businesses' activities, but Cung said he thought it would not be possible to have them amended by the end of this year.

Nguyen Van Than, vice-president of the Vietnam Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, agreed. "It's too ambitious," he said.

Than cited the recent draft circular 19 from the Ministry of Health on Government examination of imported food. The document proposes that issuing certificates for qualified food be done by the Ministry instead of customs agencies as at present.

"That is adding to administrative procedures. We must train our staff so they can directly deal with on the spot issues. Waiting for the ministry to issue certificates would take days," he said.

Cung from the Central Institute for Economic Management said when it came to improving trade and business, customs couldn't do it alone.

"The role of ministers is very important, they must be the one who supervise, review and push the tasks assigned to their sector. Only by smooth co-ordination among ministries and the customs sector can resolution goals be achieved," Cung said.

In 2014, the Government issued Resolution No. 19/NQ-CP on major tasks and solutions for improving the business environment and national competitiveness.

The Resolution noted the reduction in the time spent to pay taxes from 573 to 247 hours per year, adding that this would be reduced to 167 hours due to changes to the Tax Law that came into effect on January 1.

The latest Doing Business report by the World Bank, released last October, ranked Viet Nam 72nd among 189 countries in terms of ease of doing business.

Also, according to a World Bank report, the average time taken to finish import procedures in Viet Nam is 21 days, five times highers than in Singapore (four days) and three times higher than in Malaysia (eight days).

"If we could cut down customs procedures, we could save US$1 billion each year," Cung said. — VNS

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