|Delegates at the closing event of the USAID Trade Facilitation Programme's panel discussion session on Wednesday morning. VNS Photo Ly Ly Cao|
HÀ NỘI — After five years of implementation, the USAID Trade Facilitation Programme has helped improve the business environment in Việt Nam, with a direct and long-lasting impact on the business community, said officials.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has worked with the General Department of Vietnam Customs (GDVC) through the programme, which is worth US$21.7 million, from 2018–2023.
The goal is to assist the government in developing and implementing a risk management strategy at the customs office and specialised inspection agencies as well as enhancing the execution of the Trade Facilitation Agreement of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Thanks to the close partnership with customs and other agencies, the project has supported GDVC to implement 20 out of 24 WTO-TFA provisions and develop and revise 43 legal instruments related to specialised inspections, of which 37 have been issued.
It also strengthened ties between customs and the private sector by inviting them to programme training and consultation events.
Enterprises now spend less time in specialised inspection activities. Since 2019, border clearance times have been halved from 103.68 hours to 54.8 hours for imports and from 95.78 hours to 38.4 hours for exports.
As a result, the costs for traders to complete cross-border procedures fell from $659 to $313 for imports and from $420 to $338 for exports.
"The goals set for the programme have been basically completed," Nguyễn Văn Thọ, deputy director general of GDVC, said at the closing event of the USAID Trade Facilitation Programme on Wednesday morning.
He also said that the end of the project is a new beginning for the cooperation relationship between the Ministry of Finance, GDVC, and USAID in the effort to implement the strategies of the finance and customs sectors in the new period to realise Việt Nam’s digital transformation goals.
Aler Grubbs, Mission Director of USAID in Việt Nam, said: "The impressive results achieved by the project are a prime example of the achievements that our strong partnership between our two countries can achieve. I look forward to continuing this joint effort to drive even stronger economic growth."
Speaking at the event, Mai Xuân Thành, former director of the USAID Trade Facilitation Programme, believed that the reform of the country’s customs procedures is not only for strengthening inter-agency cooperation but also for increasing its competitiveness over the international customs authorities.
Sharing his opinion, Đậu Tuấn Anh, Vice Secretary General and Director of the Legal Department under the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) said that the project impacts directly not only the customs sector and other government agencies but also on the beneficiaries, of the majority being businesses, importers, and exporters.
Tuấn added that the key point of the project is to empower businesses to evaluate the quality of customs and commercial procedures. Therefore, businesses, especially small and medium enterprises, have the opportunity to raise their voice.
“The project may end, but the role of enterprises in the reform process has been established and it will be an important premise for further reforms,” Tuấn added. — VNS