TFP and efforts in improving trade and investment environment in Vietnam

VCN - On the morning of April 12, in Hanoi, the US Diplomatic Mission to Vietnam, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Vietnam Customs, held a closing event of the Trade Facilitation Project (TFP).
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Attending the event were Ms Vu Thi Mai, former Deputy Minister of Finance, former Head of USAID TFP Steering Committee; Mr Mai Xuan Thanh, Acting Director of the General Department of Taxation, former Director of the Project Management Board; Mr Nguyen Van Tho, Deputy Director of the General Department of Customs.

On the US side, Ms Aler Grubb, Director of USAID in Vietnam, and Mr Greg Leon, Director of the Department of Economic Growth and Development, USAID in Vietnam, attended the event.

Appreciating achieved results

The USAID-funded TFP aims to assist the Government of Vietnam in adopting and implementing a risk management approach at Customs and specialized inspection agencies, thereby enhancing the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO FTA). This will help Vietnam fulfil its economic development targets while reducing trade time and costs and promoting import and export.

With the aid capital of US$21.7 million, after five years of implementation of the project by the cooperation between USAID and the General Department of Customs, the project has brought many important results. Specifically, the TFP has assisted the Customs authority in implementing 20/24 articles of the WTO TFA; supported the development and amendment of 43 legal documents, of which 37 have been issued) related to specialized management and inspection; organized 61 training activities for more than 3,000 people from public agencies and the private sector; strengthened the Customs-Business partnership with 3,622 people from the private sector who attended training and consultation activities organized by TFP.

Deputy Director General of Vietnam Customs Nguyen Van Tho speaks at the event. Photo: H.Nu
Deputy Director General of Vietnam Customs Nguyen Van Tho speaks at the event. Photo: H.Nu

In particular, from 2019, the time for customs clearance of goods at the border gate has been halved - from 103.68 hours to 54.8 hours for imported goods and from 95.78 hours to 38.4 hours for export goods. In addition, the costs of customs clearance time at the border gate have decreased from US$69 to US$313 (for imported goods) and from US$420 to $338 (for export goods).

Sharing these results, Deputy Director General of the General Department of Customs Nguyen Van Tho said that the project took place at an extremely appropriate time, especially in the context of Vietnam's implementation of the WTOTFA. After five years of implementation, the project has supported Vietnam in effectively conducting administrative and institutional reforms through various activities, including technical assistance to apply risk management by the Customs, improved capacity building and developed public-private partnerships effectively.

Leaders of units and agencies discuss the results of five years of implementing the TFP. Photo: H.Nu
Leaders of units and agencies discuss the results of five years of implementing the TFP. Photo: H.Nu

Agreeing with the assessment of the General Department of Customs leader, Ms Aler Grubb, Director of USAID in Vietnam, affirmed that USAID is a long-term partner of Vietnam in improving the trade and investment environment in Vietnam. The impressive results achieved by the USAID-funded TFP are a prime example of what a strong partnership between the two countries can achieve. USAID looks forward to continuing this joint effort to drive even stronger economic growth.

Expecting next success

For more than 20 years, USAID has supported Vietnam's efforts to create a free, open, and predictable trade environment. USAID's long-term support has helped Vietnam improve its ranking on the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index and move up the rankings of US export markets.

According to USAID's assessment, Vietnam's economy has become one of the world's most open economies. However, cumbersome import-export procedures are still a significant barrier to trade.

The TFP-funded project supports the Government of Vietnam in building a more attractive business environment for businesses, traders and investors. This will become increasingly important as trade recovers from Covid-19 and will accelerate the implementation of the WTO-TFA, to which both Vietnam and the United States are members.

Deputy General Director Nguyen Van Tho and former Deputy Minister of Finance Vu Thi Mai awarded certificates of merit to two individuals for their achievements in implementing TFP. Photo: H.Nu
Deputy General Director Nguyen Van Tho and former Deputy Minister of Finance Vu Thi Mai awarded certificates of merit to two individuals for their achievements in implementing TFP. Photo: H.Nu

Speaking at the project closing event, former Director of the Project Management Board, Mr. Mai Xuan Thanh, Acting Director of the General Department of Taxation, said that the TFP is an ambitious project which benefits not only state management agencies but also the business community. In particular, the great results after five years of implementation proved the USAID's and the contractors' determination and efforts.

Mr Mai Xuan Thanh said that Vietnam Customs' ambition in administrative procedure reform is not only the top of the domestic management agencies, but Vietnam Customs is aiming to create a breakthrough in the investment environment with the aim of competitiveness at regional and global level. Although the project has ended, Vietnam in general and Vietnam Customs, in particular, are hopeful that the results will be a spillover for all management agencies and businesses. In addition, the Vietnamese side hopes that USAID will have new projects for Vietnam Customs to carry out related activities in the future.

By Nu Bui/ Huyen Trang

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