Green Customs: help facilitate legal trade, protect environment

VCN – The Customs sector has set the task of carrying out ‘Green Customs’ to prevent the illegal cross-border trade of goods, drugs, weapons, waste, wildlife products and specimens.
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Ivory seized by Hai Phong Customs in January 2019. Photo: T.Binh
Ivory seized by Hai Phong Customs in January 2019. Photo: T.Binh

Instructions to carry out Green Customs

Multilateral Environmental Agreements related to the Green Customs Initiative:

- The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal

- The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity

- The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling, and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention, CWC)

- The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. (CITES)

- The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer

- Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure for certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade.

- The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has guided the implementation of ‘Green Customs’ for the Customs force that is on the front lines facilitating and monitoring international trade.

The United Nations expects the Customs to maximise the benefits that society can derive from this trade, while minimising the risks and threats that trade may pose, such as smuggling and criminal activities.

Among them, some substances and commodities transported across borders are considered environmentally-sensitive to human health or the ecosystem because of their inherently hazardous properties, the possibility of misuse or their negative impact on biodiversity.

These commodities include restricted or prohibited chemicals, toxic and hazardous wastes, endangered species and certain organisms.

Many of these commodities are covered by Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) or international conventions such as the Convention on Chemical Weapons. Accordingly, the control of transboundary movements of these commodities is an important part in environmental protection and national security.

The capacity enhancement of Customs force was initiated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Therefore, the Customs is now not only a trade controller but also an environmental protector, helping facilitate legal trade activities.

Various forms of study and learning

The Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) cover the transboundary movements of certain commodities, substances and wild species to conserve and protect the environment from the adverse effects of human activities or minimize their impacts.

When countries take legal steps to formally agree to be bound by the MEAs, especially the terms of international trade, they will commit to and restrict or prohibit the use or trade of certain substances or items through the enactment of legal regulations. Therefore, Customs shall base on issued laws and signed agreements to perform the task of inspecting, monitoring and controlling the goods that may affect the environment through the prevention of illegal trade in chemicals, waste, wildlife products and specimens.

In order to implement ‘Green Customs’, Customs authorities and officers must learn about ‘Green Customs’ guidelines and share them with colleagues through documents, lectures, courses on ‘Green Customs’ and the content of international conventions; organize research and study on multilateral environmental agreements and related laws on relevant websites and documents

In addition, monitor the implementation of international environmental treaties of other countries and on how to identify key stakeholders in each country. The national office or agency in charge of implementing the MEAs in each country can provide more detailed information on implementation measures.

Furthermore, the websites on MEAs are regularly updated with the latest information on the ratification status, new training tools, and amendments to the agreements. At the same time, the Green Customs website (http://www.greencustoms.org) also provides information on related events and developments.

Consecutive trade deficit, still confident of trade surplus Consecutive trade deficit, still confident of trade surplus

VCN – In the first six months of 2021, Vietnam had a trade deficit of US$1.47 billion, ...

Customs has established contacts with national MEAs and other stakeholders that may be required to participate in national consultations in the law-making relating to the MEAs implementation and data collection.

By Quang Hung/ Huyen Trang

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