Viet Nam News
The national one-door customs mechanism, first introduced in 2011, has considerably reduced time spent on customs procedures and facilitated import and export activities. This forms an important premise for Việt Nam as it develops its National Single Window (NSW) that will have to integrate with the ASEAN Single Window (ASW).
Phạm Duyên Phương, deputy director of the Information Technology and Statistics Department under the General Department of Customs, speaks about this issue with Vnews, the television channel of the Vietnam News Agency.
What are the results obtained in implementing the NSW from 2014 until now?
The national single window customs mechanism is an information technology (IT) system operating in a legal environment, creating favourable conditions for fulfilling administrative procedures.
This mechanism has been applied for procedures relating to exit, entry and transit of people, transportation means and goods. At present, many procedures are carried out under the national one-door mechanism, and this has delivered some good results.
For the first time, Việt Nam has made remarkable progress in investment environment rankings, including cross-border trading, in a World Bank (WB) survey.
According to a WB survey on business environment in 2016, Việt Nam reduced customs clearance time, including time required to prepare the clearance dossier for goods and time taken to transport goods from the border gate to the warehouse. This is in keeping with the Government’s resolution on shortening customs clearance time.
For instance, when the Việt Nam Register began participating under the national single window mechanism, customs clearance of motorcycles and specialised vehicles took much less time.
For State agencies, the NSW ensures that all information will come from a single source and will be shared from a single source-based information technology system with high security, so accuracy and reliability of information will be much higher than processing with paper records.
What has the General Department of Customs done over the past years to promote implementation of the NSW and ASW mechanisms?
As an advisory body, the department has advised the Government to set up a solid foundation for the national one-stop mechanism. It has also directly implemented the mechanism with several specific solutions for customs offices in simplifying procedures and automating them to reduce time for customs clearance and release of goods.
The single window customs mechanism has been piloted at the Nội Bài Airport and will soon be applied at the Tân Sơn Nhất Airport. What are the difficulties experienced so far and what will your department do to ensure its success?
So far, the pilot project has gone smoothly. While we wait for the legal foundations to be completed, we have worked with international airlines to test the technical options. We have not encountered any technical problems. However, we have forecast some problems that are likely to arise. First, when the Prime Minister’s decision on applying a single customs window for the domestic airway system comes into effect, transaction volumes will increase greatly, so probability of trouble with the network infrastructure can occur at the same time.
In addition, in the first stage, when enterprises deal with unfamiliar customs declarations under the single window mechanism, problems will certainly arise.
As for the legal aspect, a new point in the Prime Minister’s decision is that for the first time, Việt Nam will receive full information in accordance with international regulations.
Previously, Việt Nam had only received information about passengers, luggage, flight and cargo. With the implementation of the single window customs mechanism, Việt Nam is required to add information about passenger reservations according to recommendations from some international organisations.
This is a completely new point for Việt Nam and domestic airlines are not ready to provide the information. Therefore, the department foresees some problems in the initial stages.
To solve the issue, the department has organised a lot of seminars to provide full information about this issue.
Second, we have signed mutual agreement, cooperation and support agreements with partners to provide all aviation information services for the airlines. The customs department has also set up a 24/7 center and hotlines for businesses so that they can get direct support from the centre based in the Customs Information Technology and Statistics Department.
I hope that with such solutions and our experience running the single window customs system for other fields over many years, the system for the airways sector will work smoothly.
What are new points and benefits of the single window customs mechanism?
Information on the airlines has been provided to government agencies under many different regulations, including information about management of air transportation means and transportation at international airports. For example, the department has issued decrees and circulars requiring airlines to provide information on cargo, passengers, luggage and flights. The border gate security administration and immigration management agencies are required to provide advance information about passengers.
Previously, the information was provided on paper. Then, the Government passed a decree asking the airlines to provide electronic information about passengers, but sharing of this information is very limited.
Therefore, when the information is connected to the single window customs system, the first thing is that all documents are digital and all information is linked to the management and monitoring systems of the border security agency, the immigration office, the port authority and the customs office, to automatically share them. This is the first new point.
The second new point is for the first time the general department of customs will ask for more information on passenger reservations, according to recommendations by many organisations such as the World Customs Organisation and APEC forum on security.
The third point is that when the information is sent to the system, it is automatically shared with all relevant agencies and it connects all the stages. At present, for the aviation industry, the information is poor, and this mechanism will solve this problem and better serve State management agencies. Especially for the customs department, when we have information, we will shorten clearance time and give support for logistics enterprises, transportation companies and import-export enterprises.
The IT infrastructure is very important in implementing the single window customs system for the marine and aviation industries. What infrastructure investments have been made to create favourable conditions for trade activities and connections with the ASEAN Single Window?
The IT system is the core aspect that will decide the success of implementing the national single window mechanism. However, to ensure efficiency in development of the system, besides the budget, there will also be socialisation, public-private partnership or leasing of some IT services. All these measures are currently being tried out and the department will submit its recommendations to the Prime Minister for approval. -- VNS