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VN strives to reform customs ahead of FTAs

Update: February, 02/2016 - 09:45
Customs officers check imported goods at Ka Long Bordergate in the northern Quang Ninh Province's Mong Cai City. — VNA/VNS Photo Quang Quyet
HA NOI  (VNS) — The World Trade Organisation's Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) would boost customs reforms to facilitate trade across borders in line with international standards, an official has said.

This was important as the Southeast Asia economy was striving to hasten customs reforms riding on the hope of increasing exports as a number of free trade agreements (FTAs) were on the horizon.

Nguyen Toan, director of the International Co-operation Department under the General Department of Customs, said that the TFA, which includes provisions for expediting the movement and release and clearance of goods, would also create favourable conditions for Viet Nam to implement commitments in FTAs that the country had signed and was going to sign.

The modernisation of customs management would be hastened to speed up customs clearance and prevent losses for collection of import and export taxes, Toan said.

The TFA was adopted by the WTO members at the Bali Ministerial Conference in 2013. The agreement aimed to set out measures for effective co-operation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues while enhancing technical support and capacity building in the area.

According to Toan, Viet Nam was 54th out of 64 WTO members which approved the TFA. The agreement would come into effect when it was approved by at least two-thirds of WTO members, or 108 member countries.

Still, Toan said the TFA would be a challenge to Viet Nam where 90 per cent of businesses were of small and medium sizes and trade frauds remained a headache.

He also pointed out that the lack of co-ordination among relevant ministries and organisations would also badly impact efforts to facilitate trade.

The General Department of Customs would set up plans to establish a steering committee to carry out the agreement's commitments, he said.

As of 2015, Viet Nam had trade relations with more than 200 countries and territories. With 14 impending FTAs, the country would have liberalised trade with 55 partners, promising prosper exports.

Viet Nam targeted to achieve an export revenue of US$187 billion this year, a rise of 10 per cent over 2015.

Under a project of development of regional markets, Viet Nam's export turnover was expected to touch $300 billion by 2020 with an annual average growth rate of 11 per cent to 12 per cent from 2015 to 2020. — VNS

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