Handling scrap at seaports: still many difficulties

VCN - According to the statistical review, thousands of containers of unqualified imported scrap are in stock at the seaports of Hai Phong and HCM City. Although Customs has made efforts to take many measures to require shipping companies to re-export these containers, in reality there are still many problems and difficulties.
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In the Hai Phong port area, there were 201 containers of non-standard scrap to be transported out of the territory of Vietnam. Photo: T. Binh

Hai Phong: Re-export more than 30% of the backlogged scrap containers

As one of the largest operating areas in the country, the Hai Phong seaport area is also home to many remaining containers of scrap that do not meet import standards. Carrying out the role of state management of customs in the area and the instructions of the General Department of Customs, Hai Phong Customs Department has made great efforts in handling backlogged scrap that did not meet import requirements and achieved positive results.

The implementation method of Hai Phong Customs Department is done methodically and smoothly. Specifically, in the process of handling backlogged goods in customs, the unit has coordinated with related parties to verify, inspect and classify them. According to a review of Hai Phong Customs (by the end of 2019), there were more than 600 containers of residual scrap that did not meet import standards related to 31 shipping companies. In which, two companies with over 100 containers are HAPAG LLOYD (125 containers) and COSCO (119 containers). The others have from one to several dozen containers.

After having the results of inspection that backlogged scrap shipments that do not meet the import requirements and shipping companies, the department has sent many dispatches to agents and shipping companies requesting them to transport non-standard scrap out of Vietnamese territory.

In December 2019, the Council sent an official letter 17988 HQHP-HDXLPLTĐ to the agents and shipping companiesproposed within 30 days (from the date of receiving the dispatch), the shipping company must transport non-standard scrap containers out of Vietnamese territory.

In case the agent or shipping company does not transport scrap that does not meet the standards out of the territory of Vietnam, the Council will make a list and report to the Interdisciplinary Working Group to handle backlogged goods including scrap at Vietnamese seaports and competent authorities shall consider and handle them in accordance with regulations.

With strict and methodical steps, Hai Phong Customs Department has requested to transport 201 containers out of the territory of Vietnam, accounting for nearly 31% of the total number of backlogged scrap containers that do not meet import standards.

Some cargo ships with large quantity such as HAPAG LLOYD can transport 79 containers; OOCL can transport 44 containers; COSCO can transport 16 containers.

HCMC: There is a new plan to re-export over 400 containers

According to a review of Ho Chi Minh City Customs, out of 30 shipping lines forced to re-export over 1,000 containers of non-standard imported scrap, so far, only 19 shipping companies have proposed the plan to handle the containers, the rest have not planned for re-export and destruction for nearly 500 containers.

In order to urgently handle the amount of scrap left at seaports, the leaders of the Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department have instructed the seaport's Customs Branch heads after compiling statistics and inspections to issue a notice requesting the transport enterprises to re-export the non-standard import containers.

Accordingly, at the end of August 2020, the Customs Branch of Sai Gon port Zone 1 signed and issued 30 notices on the transportation of scrap at seaports to send to shipping companies and agents in Vietnam regarding 1,099 containers of scrap shipments that are not eligible for import.

As of early November 2020, the customs office has received 19 responses from shipping companies and agents in Vietnam on the handling of scrap according to the customs authorities' notices, including 653 containers.

However, among shipping companies that have responded to the Customs' notice of forced re-export, only 10 of them have proposed a re-export plan, with the amount of scrap totaling more than 400 containers; five of them have requested to implement the plan of destruction, with 93 containers, and two of them have asked to extend the time to handle 360 containers of scrap.

In addition to shipping companies offering plans to re-export scrap, most of the others cannot find a place to re-export the non-standard scrap.

Proposing solutions

In the process of carrying out the re-export of containers of backlogged scrap goods at seaports of Saigon Port Region I Customs Branch many are waiting for the General Department of Customs to remove them.

According to the Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department, follow the instructions at Point 4 of Official Letter 6632/TCHQ-GSQL dated October 22, 2019, of the General Department of Customs on handling backlogged goods that are scrap at seaports, the classification of backlogged goods is done through an inspection to determine the type of goods or open a container for visual inspection.

If determining that backlogged goods are waste, hazardous waste or scrap that fail to meet national environmental standards, or backlogged goods polluting the environment, shipping companies are asked to transport them out of Vietnamese territory.

After having the implementation instructions, the Council for handling backlogged goods that are scrap at seaports under the Customs Branch of Sai Gon port Zone 1issued two plans for inventory and classification of backlogged goods.

After more than three months of inventory and classifying with the naked eye, out of 2,029 containers, there were 1,099 containers of scrap ineligible for import, the goods contained in the container were plastic films, packaging of all kinds that had not been cut and mixed impurities, garbage, dirty waste and a notice was issued requiring shipping companies to re-export them.

On October 13, 2020, the General Department of Customs issued Official Letter 6595/TCHQ-GSQL regarding the re-export of scrap not eligible for import which are in stock at seaports. Accordingly, the General Department of Customs requires the Customs Departments of provinces and cities to notify shipping companies of allowing re-export for backlogged scrap shipments after having the inspection results that the scrap is ineligible for import.

Implementing this regulation, Ho Chi Minh City Customs encountered problems, for scrap containers which have been determined as visually backlogged goods that do not meet the import conditions by the Council, do they have to re-inspect for inspection results.

In order to quickly handle the waste at the port, to avoid prolonged situation affecting the production and business activities of shipping companies and warehousing businesses in the year-end months, the Customs Department of Ho Chi Minh City proposed, not re-inspecting 1,099 containers that have been visually inspected to determine that scrap is ineligible for import, goods contained in plastic film containers, packaging of all kinds not shredded, impurities and dirty garbage.

Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department said that the classification of backlogged goods has been properly implemented by the unit according to the instructions inPoint 4 of Official Letter 6632/TCHQ-GSQL of the General Department of Customs.

Therefore, Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department proposed to conduct re-inspection when shipping companies do not agree with the results of the Council's inventory and classification, and is conducted by inspection organizations designated by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and the inspection costs will be paid by the shipping companies.

By Thai Binh-Thu Hoa/KieuOanh

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