Focus on successfully implementing digital transformation, creating a foundation towards Smart Customs

VCN - In the context of difficulties in 2023, the Customs industry has actively implemented solutions and accomplished tasks such as facilitating trade, promoting import ans export activities, attracting investment; preventing and combating crime, smuggling, trade fraud, especially drug-related crime; well performed the role of Standing Office of the National Steering Committee on ASEAN Single Window, National Single Window and trade facilitation. On occasion of well coming Lunar New Year 2024, Director General of Vietnam Customs Nguyen Van Can had an interview with Customs Magazine.
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Focus on successfully implementing digital transformation, creating a foundation towards Smart Customs
Director General of Vietnam Customs Nguyen Van Can.
Focus on successfully implementing digital transformation, creating a foundation towards Smart Customs
Leaders of Governement, the Ministry of Finance, the General Department of Vietnam Customs, the World Customs Organization (WCO) at the opening session of the WCO Technology Conference and Exhibition 2023 hosted by Viet Nam Customs on October, 2023. Photo: General Department Office.

Vietnam Customs’ prestige and position is increasingly strengthened

Director General of Vietnam Customs Nguyen Van Can said that outstanding achievements in 2023 have increasingly strengthenned Vietnam Customs’ prestige and position. The first outstanding result is that the Joint statement on continuing deepening and elevating the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between Vietnam and China and building a Vietnam-China community with a shared future that carries strategic significance, refers four contents on customs cooperation, including promoting the pilot construction of smart border gate; deploying cooperation in issuing multual AEO certificate; promoting Single Window collaboration; enhancing cooperation on anti-smuggling and strengthen coordination on international law enforcement of the Operation Mekong Dragon to achieve more positive results. This is the second time that the Operation Mekong Dragon jointly initiated by Vietnam Customs and China Customs is stated on the Joint statement.

The contents are also the key tasks of Vietnam Customs stated in the Customs Law, Customs Development Strategy to 2030, and Plan of digital transformation of the Customs sector to 2025, orientation to 2030.

​The second outstanding achievement is the successful organization of the WCO Technology Conference and Exhibition 2023. Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang, WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya and about 1,000 delegates from 95 countries and territories attended the conference. This is the first time the GDVC hosted the WCO’s biggest annual international conference and exhibition, improving the position of Vietnam Customs in the international customs community.

This event becomes more meaningful on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Vietnam Customs as an official member of the WCO. The GDVC has received many positive feedback and high appreciation from the WCO, international customs delegates and the technology providers for the successful and professional organization of the event by Vietnam Customs.

In 2023, Vietnam Customs implemented bilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements with partners such as: the US Customs, China Customs, Australian Customs, Netherlands Customs, Hong Kong Customs (China)... In addition, the Director General and customs leaders of ASEAN member states signed the mutual recognition agreement on the AEO Program.

The Director General emphasized that the trade facilitation and fight against smuggling are two key and cross-cutting tasks for the whole Customs sector in recent years.In a context of many difficulties, unusual fluctuations, unprediction, the achievement of these tasks is a formidable task. However, motivated by the direction of leaders at all level and great effort of all customs officers, Vietnam Customs has achievedmany successes.

Accompanying and supporting businesses, easing the flow of imports and exports

Could you please tell us about the effective solutions for trade facilitation that the Customs sector has focused on implementing in 2023?

Director General Nguyen Van Can:

In the third and fourth quarters of 2022 and the first half of 2023, import-export businesses have faced many difficulties and challenges, orders decline, deeply affecting production, business, import-export activities and job of labors. Responding to this situation, the GDVC has actively provided solutions to support and accompany the business community to overcome difficulties to stabilize and restore the production and business.

Regarding policy mechanisms, the GDVC continues to improve the customs customs legal system to ensure transparency and consistency with international commitments and Customs development orientation.

Regarding administrative reform, on January 31, 2023, the GDVC issued Decision No.123/QD-TCHQ assigning administrative reform targets, simplifying customs procedures, and facilitating trade in 2023 in the whole Customs industry. The GDVC provides 10 groups of reform targets and offers specific solutions for performance. It focuses on reducing the rate of Red channel declarations by 5%, the Yellow channel by 10%, customs clearance and release time by 10%, the number of shipments subject to be sampled for analysis and classification by 20%; and increasing by 20% year-on-year of the number of businesses participating in the program to support and encourage businesses to voluntarily comply with the Customs law.

The Customs industry has simplified and automated customs processes and promoted trade facilitation through the implementation of the National Single Window, ASEAN Single Window; and applicated technology in customs operation and implementated online public services.

The great efforts of the Customs industry ensure smooth customs clearance. In the year, the whole Customs industry processed 15 million declarations, up 460 million declarations year-on-year, including 66.31% of Green channel declarations (up 3.06%), 29,87% of Yellow channel (down 2,6%) and 3.82% of Red channel (down 0.46%). Notably, the number of Red and Yellow channels plunged compared to the targets stated in Decision 123. The import and export turnover reached USD 683 billion.

According to Decision No. 2664/QD-BTC dated December 1, 2023 of the Ministry of Finance, 2022 is the seventh consecutive year that the GDVC ranks first in Public Administration Reform Index (PAR INDEX).

Could you please share about ountstanding results of trade facilitation of the Customs sector?

Director General Nguyen Van Can:

As the role of Standing Office of the National Steering Committee on ASEAN Single Window, National Single Window and Trade Facilitation, the GDVC continues to cooperate closely with ministries and sectors in performing tasks.

Regarding the National Single Window, 250 procedures of 13 ministries and sectors have been connected to the National Single Window with the participation of more than 68,000 businesses.

Vietnam maintains official connection to the ASEAN Single Window to exchange information on e-Certificate of Origin form D with all 9 ASEAN member States... The country implements procedures to connect Single Window with non-ASEAN partners.

Regarding online public services, 133 of 214 customs procedures have been provided full-online public services, 60 procedures provided partial-online public services and 21 procedures provided online public services.

The GDVC has coordinated with relevant authorities to intergrate 12 online public services of ministries of Transport, Health, Industry and Trade, Agriculture and Rural Development to the National Single Window.

The Customs sector’s achievements make an important contribution to accomplishing the Finance - State Budget tasks in 2023. At the same time, they are the driving force for economic growth in 2023 with GDP of over 5.05%. Although it did not meet the set target, Vietnam is a bright spot in the global economy's “gray picture”.

The anti-smuggling has been performed effectively

In 2023, the Customs industry gained positive results on the anti-smuggling. Could you please provide a more detailed analysis of the outstanding achievements in the year?

Director General Nguyen Van Can:

In 2023, after the Covid-19 pandemic, the crime, smuggling and illegal transportation of goods is complicated.

The GDVC has well advised and assisted the Standing Office of the National Steering Committee 389 and the Steering Committee 389 of the Ministry of Finance; drastically taken measures and mobilized professional forces: Customs control, Post-clearance audit, Inspectorate to promptly detect and handle violations.

The industry has effectively implemented international cooperation on anti-smuggling through bilateral and multilateral channels to connect and exchange information.

The whole Customs sector handled 15,993 violations with the estimated value of infringing goods of VND12,476 billion, an increase of 42.64% compared to 2022.

The Customs prosecuted 40 cases and transferred186 cases to other agencies for prosecution, and collected about VND498 billion.

In 2023, the Customs industry recorded outstanding results in the fight against drug-related crimes. Could you please tell us about the contribution of the industry to this dangerous task?

Director General Nguyen Van Can:

The trafficking and illegal transportation of drug across the border took place complicatedly and tended to increase, especially by air and express delivery. The subjects frequently change their transportation methods with increasingly sophisticated and reckless tricks.

The GDVC has urgently and promptly issued many documents warning on methods and tricks of hiding drugs; drastically taken measures, strengthen international cooperation to promptly detect and bust transnational drug trafficking rings.

The entire Customs industry presided over and coordinated with the Police and Border Guard forces to arrest 263 cases, 303 subjects, seized over 2.8 tons of drugs. This is considered the largest quantity of drugs seized by the Customs.

In September, the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department and Hai Phong Customs Department coordinated with other enforcement forces to bust a transnational drug trafficking ring and seized 1.3 tons of Ketamine.

Hanoi Customs Department arrested 45 cases, seized about 825 kg of drugs.

The Customs force has clarified many sophisticated methods and tricks of smugglers such as: hiding drugs in goods, luggage, and vehicles...; using social networks to transact or using transportation services or hiring tech-based vehicles to transport infringing goods and monitor the moving process…

The results show that the qualifications and bravery of the customs officials are increasingly improved, and affirm the role of the Customs agency as one of the four the main force on combating drug-related crimes (along with the Police, Border Guard, and Coast Guard).

Determined to successfully implement digital transformation

Regarding the tasks set for 2024, the Director General emphasized that the entire industry is determined to successfully implement the assigned goals and tasks, especially comprehensive digital transformation.

To succeed in comprehensive digital transformation, what tasks and solutions should the Customs perform in 2024?

Director General Nguyen Van Can:

By 2024, the entire Customs is determined to implement comprehensive digital transformation based on the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI); Internet of Things (IoT); Big data; Blockchain and Cloud computing in all operations.

To succeed in digital transformation, the entire industry needs to research and effectively implement the goals, tasks and solutions set out in the plan of digital transformation of the Customs sector to 2025, orientation to 2030.

First, it is necessary to focus resources on successfully building an information technology system to implement digital customs to meet requirements in customs clearance, thereby creating a premise to move towards smart customs and smart border gate. The system will replace the VNACCS/VCIS, which is a breakthrough in digital transformation of the Customs industry. This is the second "revolution" in modernization of the Customs industry. The Customs industry strives to complete the construction of this system in the second quarter of 2024.

At the same time, the Customs sector needs to preside over to and proactively implement tasks on developing smart border gates in Lang Son and other areas.

Besides, we need to pay attention to internal digital transformation; training, capacity building and staffing.

What are the task requirements set for the entire Industry in 2024?

Director General Nguyen Van Can:

2024 is predicted as a year of huge and unpredictable difficulties and challenges and will be a breakthrough year in implementing the Resolution of the 13th Party Congress, and the year the entire Customs industry will deploy the "second revolution of customs modernization” which set a huge of work, thus the whole industry need implement goals and solutions consistently and effectively. In particular, it is necessary to continue to create maximum trade facilitation according to the Party's policies, State laws, and the Customs Law.

In addition, the industry will focus on completing Decrees such as: Decree on the management mechanism, methods, order, and procedures for quality inspection and food safety inspection for imported goods; Decree on customs management of imported and exported goods in e-commerce transactions; Decree amending Decree No. 08/2015/ND-CP dated January 21, 2015 of the Government detailing and implementing measures of the Customs Law on customs procedures, inspection, supervision and control; Decree regulates the implementation of connection and information sharing in the fields of export, import, exit, entry, transit of goods, people and means of transport according to the National Single Window mechanism...

Regarding the budget collection task, the Customs will closely follow the country's socio-economic development targets to develop effective collection solutions and strive to achieve and exceed estimated targets set for the whole year.

Regarding anti-smuggling work; the Industry will strengthen anti-drug and promote achievements in 2023 to focus on effectively fighting criminal gangs and rings.

In addition to drug crimes and traditional crimes, it is necessary to focus on preventing and combating new types of crimes such as making fake invoices to import and export goods; trading invoices to illegally transfer money abroad;

Prioritize strengthening Customs-Business partnerships; continue to effectively implement the pilot program to support and encourage businesses to voluntarily comply with the customs law.

Human resource is always a key factor, so how is the capacity building in the context of digital transformation?

Director General Nguyen Van Can:

The entire industry needs to proactively research procedures and regulations on personnel work to prepare for amendments and supplements according to new documents of the Government and the Ministry of Finance.

Develop a plan to organize the 7th Conference of typical and advanced delegates of the Customs industry to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the establishment of the Customs industry (September 10, 1945 - September 10, 2025).

Review and organize the organizational structure towards streamlining, reducing intermediaries, and operating effectively and efficiently.

In particular, it is necessary to further strengthen order and discipline in performing public duties, combating negative manifestations and corruption through specific action programs to implement Regulation No. 114-QD/ Central dated July 11, 2023 of the Politburo on controlling power and preventing corruption and negative acts in personnel work;

Continue to strictly implement the Regulation on public service inspection and handling of violations against civil servants and public employees in the Customs (issued in Decision No. 799/QD-TCHQ dated April 12, 2023) with more than 980 specific violation acts;

Strengthen the application of information technology, modern equipment (container scanners, surveillance camera systems, electronic seals...) to both facilitate fast customs clearance and fight against harassment and negativity.

Therefore, I hope that the civil servants, public employees, and workers throughout the industry will promote their rich traditions, make efforts to train, and strive to successfully carry out the assigned tasks, focusing on successful implementation of the digital transformation.

On behalf of all officials, civil servants, public employees, and workers of the Customs industry, I would like to respectfully thank the leadership, direction, and support of leaders at all levels for the development of Vietnam Customs.

On the occasion of the Lunar New Year of Dragon 2024, on behalf of the Party Committee and leaders of the General Department of Vietnam Customs, I respectfully send to generations of officers, civil servants, public employees, and workers in the Customs industry best wishes for Peace, Happiness and Success!

Thank you very much and wish the Director General and your family a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

By Thai Binh/Ngoc Loan

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