AI application trend in customs management increasingly receiving attention

VCN - AI application trend in customs management is increasingly receiving attention, said by Mr. Vu Tu Thanh (photo), Regional Deputy Executive Director, US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC) in an interview with Customs Magazine reporters on the sidelines of the 33rd ASEAN Customs Directors-General Meeting
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Mr. Vu Tu Thanh, Deputy Regional Managing Director of US-ASEAN Business Council. Photo: Tran Anh
Mr. Vu Tu Thanh, Deputy Regional Managing Director of US-ASEAN Business Council. Photo: Tran Anh

Could you please share about the process of implementing cooperation programs and initiatives of ASEAN Customs administration with the activities of private sector?

One of the most important functions of the Customs is risk management and control. So to perform this task well, Customs administrations have been very active in updating new technologies, especially the consultation relationship between Customs agencies and the private sector. It is one of the most effective public-private partnerships. Customs and businesses have a symbiotic relationship with each other. Leaders of Customs agencies said that unfavorable business operations are the failure of the Customs agency.

Therefore, the goal of the Customs agency is to create favorable conditions for businesses. The replication of good practices and good experiences is being implemented more and more strongly by customs authorities. Recently, US-ABC businesses have worked directly with Vietnam Customs more. We appreciate the opportunity to share our insights with Vietnam Customs through our regular cooperation with the General Department of Customs.

Currently, some customs operations require high-skills and qualifications. Do you have any recommendations in experience and professional knowledge to boost cooperation between Customs and partners in the private sector?

Improving the professional capacity is a regular task that Customs administrations of ASEAN Member States are doing. An important part of that work is constantly understanding the needs of the business. For decades, we have had a process of close cooperation with Customs administrations of ASEAN Member States. During that Meeting hosted by the General Department of Customs, the US-ABC made recommendations on some areas.

First of all, ASEAN Customs administrations must continue to organize training sessions for customs officials and employees to update on practical issues in import-export trade activities and new trends. For example, the trend of e-commerce goods has increased dramatically over the past few years, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic. However, along with that, the number of confiscated packages related to banned substances and drugs also skyrocketed.

At the same time, customs officials and employees need to update and follow best practices on new technology applications. The trend of applying artificial intelligence (AI) in customs work is receiving great attention from customs authorities and strong support from businesses. It is known that Vietnam Customs is actively updating these new technologies. The US private sector is ready to share the latest technology with the Customs agency.

We also recommend that Customs administrations need to promote the establishment of shared online platforms for Customs administrations to limit the multiple declarations. Accordingly, businesses only need to provide information to the shared platform, and the Customs administrations of partner countries will get all the information. This creates convenience for both Customs and businesses.

How do you evaluate the role of US-ABC in promoting innovation and solving challenges faced by the Customs?

Innovation in the private sector often moves faster than in the public sector. Because the private sector always has the opportunity to experiment with innovation and test new technologies before the public sector. Given that advantage, we regularly consult with Customs authorities. Thereby, sharing the latest technologies that businesses have deployed and made recommendations to Customs.

First, we encourage ASEAN Member States to accelerate paperless transactions and ensure a harmonized approach across different agencies to promote the digital economic ecosystem. Facing the development of the Digital Economy Framework Agreement, the business community hopes that ASEAN Customs Member States will attach importance to the Customs and Trade Facilitation program in this agreement to allow the exchange of e-documents, creating a premise to build the future of digital commerce.

In addition, the US-ABC has been supporting the promotion of harmonization of trade rules, improving current regulations on goods classification and free tariffs and inspection procedures of goods origin as well as many other contents. Especially upgrading existing trade agreements such as the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA)...

What positive signals have been recorded from ASEAN Customs administrations in general and Vietnam Customs in particular in innovation?

A positive sign is that the customs administration all shared at this meeting about plans to upgrade the customs system in both policy and technology. From a multilateral perspective, ASEAN Customs administrations are also actively negotiating and coordinating with each other to implement agreements aimed at building shared platforms. However, the speed of implementation depends on each country.

On the Vietnamese side, the good news for the business community is that the Government as well as the leaders of the General Department of Customs were aware of the importance of this very early. Although the Government's resources are limited, it has proposed that the National Assembly allocate necessary resources for the General Department of Customs to modernize the customs system.

Through discussion, Vietnam Customs leaders said they are upgrading the customs system. It is expected that by the end of 2026, the upgrade will be completed and a new customs system will be launched. This is a very positive signal for the business community. Because the sooner the system is upgraded, the sooner businesses and the economy will benefit.

Thank you,

By Thu Diu/ Huyen Trang

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