Importing medicinal herbs through Chi Ma border gate (Lang Son): Why are businesses not interested?

VCN - It has been almost half of the pilot implementation of the project to import medicinal herbs through the Chi Ma bilateral border gate (Lang Son) according to the Government's Resolution No. 111/NQ-CP, but until now, no enterprises have registered for import procedures for medicinal herbs through this border gate.

Are there any problems in the process of completing the procedures or are there any problems that make businesses hesitate to import the items?

Currently, every day, only about 30 trucks of goods are imported from China by enterprises. Photo: H.Nu
Currently, every day, only about 30 trucks of goods are imported from China by enterprises. Photo: H.Nu

The advantages are obvious

On September 23, 2021, the Prime Minister issued Resolution No. 111/NQ-CP on the implementation of the pilot project on importing medicinal herbs through the Chi Ma bilateral border gate (Lang Son). The pilot scheme takes effect from October 1, 2021 and the pilot implementation period will last for two years.

In order to effectively implement Resolution No. 111/NQ-CP, Lang Son province has taken the initiative in plans on facilities and technical processes to ensure the smooth and safe import of this item.

In particular, on November 13, 2021, the People's Committee of Lang Son province issued a pilot process for importing medicinal herbs through Chi Ma border gate to implement Resolution No. 111/NQ-CP.

Accordingly, the import of medicinal herbs through Chi Ma border gate is carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Pharmacy Law 2016 and Decree No. 54/2017/ND-CP dated May 8, 2017 of the Government. Customs procedures for imported herbal medicinal products shall comply with the provisions of the Customs Law 2014, Decree No. 08/2015/ND-CP, Decree No. 59/2018/ND-CP and related guiding documents.

Procedures for border guard inspection, control and supervision comply with Decision No. 802/QD-BTL dated March 10, 2021 of the Border Guard Command on procedures, inspection, control and supervision.

In addition, Lang Son province requires state management agencies at the border gate based on their functions and tasks to proactively coordinate to promptly solve arising difficulties and problems, creating favorable conditions for enterprises. in the process of carrying out procedures to ensure compliance with the provisions of the law on imported medicinal herbs and Resolution No. 111/NQ-CP.

It is easy to see that the pilot project to import medicinal products through Chi Ma border gate is expected to help the import and export turnover of goods through this border gate increase. In addition to rushing to issue clear procedures and instructions, the authorities and functional forces in Lang Son have actively created all favorable conditions for businesses. But it is worth mentioning here that, after nearly half of the implementation time of the Scheme, so far there has not been a "shadow" of any shipment declared and imported by enterprises through this border gate.

According to Lang Son Customs Department, before Decree No. 54/2017/ND-CP promulgates regulations on a number of articles and measures to implement the Law on Pharmacy, effective from July 1, 2017 (according to Decree 54/2017/ND-CP, medicinal products are only allowed to be imported through international border gates), then medicinal herbs are "traditional" imported goods through Chi Ma border gate.

Statistics from Lang Son Customs Department show that the turnover of raw medicinal products imported through Chi Ma border gate in 2015 reached over 34,000 tons, worth US$14.2 million; in 2016 imported over 7,000 tons, worth US$9.7 million and in the first six months of 2017 imported about 8,000 tons, worth US$12.7 million, accounting for 27% of total import turnover through Chi Ma border gate (US$46.9 million).

Thus, it can be seen that medicinal herbs are not "foreign" imported goods. Moreover, when the pilot project is approved, many businesses can complete the procedures and import right away because of the development orientation of the border gate, the State and enterprises, Vietnam - China have invested in warehouse infrastructure to serve import and export of this item.

No shipments have been imported yet

After a period of interruption of import and export activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chinese side stopped customs clearance of goods at Chi Ma border gate, currently, only about 30 means of transporting consumer goods and machinery are being transported every day.

Back in 2018-2020, when medicinal products were "banned" from being imported through Chi Ma border gate, businesses and smugglers were "actively" transporting medicinal herbs through here. There have been many arrests with the amount of up to hundreds of tons, even the functional forces have uncovered the whole line of smuggling "terrible" medicinal products. But why is it that when "no ban" occurs, enterprises are allowed to import freely.

Nguyen Bao Ngoc, Head of Chi Ma Border Gate Customs Branch (Lang Son Customs Department) said that the unit has actively met with a number of enterprises operating in the field of importing medicinal herbs.

In fact, some enterprises have come to survey the conditions of infrastructure, bonded warehouses, etc., but so far, they have not answered whether they carry out procedures to import medicinal herbs through Chi Ma border gate or not.

To find out the reason, when talking with a representative of Lang Son Department of Industry and Trade, it is known that medicinal herbs are a group of imported goods related to specialized activities, enterprises that are allowed to import must meet many criteria and be approved.

The Ministry of Health recognizes that, therefore, the number of enterprises operating in this field is not high. Along with that, the license to import medicinal herbs is granted (issued by the Medicine and Pharmacy Administration, the Ministry of Health) with a term of a year. According to regulations, enterprises registered at any border gate must complete the expiration of the license term before being allowed to change the border gate to carry out import procedures. Therefore, from the end of 2021, a number of businesses came to survey the actual situation at Chi Ma border gate, but they saw that the situation of importing and exporting goods through the border gate encountered some difficulties due to China's tightening of business activities. Due to the control of the Covid-19 pandemic, enterprises transferred registration to carry out procedures through sea border gates or border gates in other areas. So up to now, no shipment of medicinal herbs has been imported through Chi Ma border gate.

In addition to the above reasons, through our research, we know that the majority of enterprises operating in importing medicinal herbs are still concerned about the specialized inspection and management process for medicinal products by specialized agencies in Lang Son province. Enterprises are concerned that the specialized inspection overlaps, and prolongs the day, leading to high costs.

A representative of the Inter-sectoral Working Group to inspect and supervise the import of medicinal herbs through Chi Ma border gate explained that if the imported medicinal materials are suitable and ensure the standards of medicinal herbs recognized by the Ministry of Health, the goods of that enterprise will not have to undergo specialized inspection and be allowed to import immediately. In fact, a number of shipments of medicinal herbs imported through Huu Nghi international border gate were cleared the same day after meeting the prescribed standards for medicinal herbs.

According to this representative, in order to help businesses carry out import procedures for medicinal herbs through this border gate, the first thing to do is to coordinate with the Medicine and Pharmacy Administration (Ministry of Health) to organize a meeting with enterprises operating in the field. Importing medicinal herbs to capture thoughts and aspirations, promptly remove difficulties and obstacles, thereby creating trust, and attracting enterprises to declare and import medicinal products through Chi Ma border gate.

The implementation time of the Government's pilot project to import medicinal herbs has passed nearly half, but the effectiveness is still zero. Therefore, in order for the project not to come to a dead-end, the management agencies are currently in charge of the project and it is necessary to urgently implement drastic and synchronous solutions to enhance trade promotion for the import of medicinal herbs through Chi Ma border gate.

Because if the project is not implemented quickly, the project will not be as effective as the initial goal, which will not only affect the tax collection of the locality but also may affect the future decision of the Government to continue to allow the import of medicinal herbs through Chi Ma border gate and some other border gates of Lang Son province.

By Nui Bui/ Huu Tuc

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