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Lawmakers concern the Foreign Trade Law giving much power to trade ministry

Update: September, 15/2016 - 10:35
NA Chairwoman Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân delivers speech at the National Assembly Standing Committee (NASC) yesterday. — VNA/VNS Photo An Đăng

HÀ NỘI — The National Assembly Standing Committee (NASC) raised concerns over the amount of power the draft Law on Foreign Trade gives to the Industry and Trade Ministry.

The law, which was being discussed by the NASC for the first time, is aimed to be a State management tool on foreign trade that ensures transparency and compliance with international law as well as increasing the competitiveness of the economy.

Promulgating the Law on Foreign Trade was necessary to complete the legal framework for foreign trade activities, according to a report delivered by deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyễn Cẩm Tú to the NASC meeting yesterday.

“At present, there are many legal documents of State management on foreign trade activities. These lead to overlaps in State management and a lack of transparency which causes risks for businesses import/export activities”, Tú said.

“The draft law regulates administrative management of import-export limitations such as quotas, designating import/export businesses and lists of products banned from imports and exports”, he told the meeting.

Many deputies said that the law gave too much power to management agencies.

Deputy Phan Thanh Bình, chairman of the NA Culture, Education and Youth Affairs Committee, said that the draft law focused more on management than development for foreign trade activities.

He also said that the draft law gave too much power to the minister of trade.

“The law regulates many kinds of licences and gives a lot of power to the Trade Minister, authorizing him to grant quotas and designate import and export businesses”, said Bình.

 “I did not see any clause mentioning monitoring activities or transparency”, he said.

Deputy Võ Trọng Việt, chairman of the National Security and Defence Committee, said the law should have tight regulations to ensure Vietnamese import-export businesses don’t suffer.

The law would deal with overlaps on import-export procedures, Việt said.

NA Deputy Chairman Uông Chu Lưu said that the draft should deal with foreign trade services such as logistics and warehouses.

Chairman of Economic Committee Vũ Hồng Thanh said the law should authorise the Prime Minister to halt the import and export of some products.

However, some deputies said that this ability should be given to the Trade Minister after discussions with related ministries and agencies.

Deputy Nguyễn Thanh Hải, agreed to the draft law’s item of setting lists of import-export ban. She referred to the importing of tonnes of toxic Salbutamol which was sold legally due to vague regulations.

“Tonnes of toxic substance were sold but no ministries knew about it or took responsibility. This was very dangerous”, she said.

NA Chairwoman Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân said import-export limitations on some products were good but she asked the law compiler to explain whether concrete lists were mentioned in the law or if the Government could issue lists aimed at protecting businesses.

The NASC agreed with the main points of the draft law on State management of foreign trade activities including management measures, dispute settlement, and measures for foreign trade development.

Most lawmakers wanted the law to reduce power of the Industry and Trade Ministry and increase support of businesses involved in foreign trade.— VNS

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