Vietnam Customs actively electronicizes Customs processes under SAFE Framework

VCN - The 29th Session of the WCO SAFE Working Group (SWG) Meeting was held from November 15 to 17 with participation from approximately 300 registered delegates. Customs Magazine had an interview with Mrs. Bui Thi Hoai, Deputy Head of Customs Procedures Reform Division under Customs Reform and Modernization Board of the General Department of Vietnam Customs about the role, achievement as well as implementation of the SAFE Framework by Vietnam Customs.
The WCO successfully holds its 18th Global Information and Intelligence Strategy Project Group The WCO successfully holds its 18th Global Information and Intelligence Strategy Project Group
Vietnam Customs actively electronicizes Customs processes under SAFE Framework
Mrs. Bui Thi Hoai, Deputy Head of Customs Procedures Reform Division under Customs Reform and Modernization Board of the General Department of Vietnam Customs

Could you tell us about the basic contents of SAFE Framework and the achievements of the 29th Session of the WCO SAFE Working Group (SWG) Meeting?

The WCO SAFE Framework is an tool to help Customs administrations of member countries follow and achieve the strategic goal of improving supply chain security and facilitating global trade. The SAFE Framwork is also international standard suystem for Customs administrations.

This standard system includes 29 standards and 79 contents of 3 main pillars. Specifically, Pillar I: Customs-to-Customs network arrangements includes 11 standards; Pillar II: Customs-to-Business partnerships includes 6 standrards, and Pillar III: Customs-to-other Government Agencies co-operation has 12 standards with appendices to guide implementation.

The SAFE framework was approved by the World Customs Cooperation Council in June 2005. Currently, it has undergone six reviews, updates, amendments and supplements and has been wished to participated by 172 of 185 member Customs administrations. In addtion, about 100 countries have implemented Authorized Economic Operators, and over 110 AEO mutual recognition agreements have been signed.

The 29th meeting took place from November 15-17, 2023 with the participation of delegates from the Private Sector Consultative Group (PSCG); World Trade Organization (WTO), International Plant Protection Organization (IPPC) and Customs administrations, including Vietnam Customs.

The 29th meeting aims to discuss proposals to amend the SAFE Framework for the 2021-2025 review cycle. At this meeting, the working group approved filtration mechanism for the SAFE Framework review. Through filtration mechanism and discussion at the meeting, 8 of 20 proposals were agreed by majority of members and expected to be decided in the next meeting. Accordingly, these 8 proposals focus on improving the effectiveness and efficiency of supply chain management; strengthen the close connection between the Customs and businesses, and facilitate the AEO.

Notably, through the pilot survey and the upcoming official implementation, the meeting reached a consensus in strengthening the assessment and monitoring of the implementation of the SAFE Framework.

The meeting also reached consensus on establishing an online data warehouse of he Customs administration in collaborating with Border Management Agencies, focusing on environmental compliance under pillar III of the SAFE Framework.

Additionally, the SWG lent its support to the establishment of an online WCO repository of Members’ practices on collaboration with regulatory agencies for public safety and security, with a focus on environmental compliance under Pillar III of the SAFE Framework. The working group also approved the Research Report on Smart Security Devices.

The meeting also addressed various critical topics, including progress on the Customs-Port Cooperation Guidelines.

Discussions also revolved around expanding the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) programme to include Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Micro Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) as well as e-commerce stakeholders.

The 29th Session has made significant progress in endorsing several important initiatives to improve supply chain management efficiency by revising the SAFE Framework. Discussions hold the promise of bringing improvements to the SAFE Framework, promoting business recovery and facilitating global trade.

In your opinion, what result has Vietnam Customs achieved in the process of implementing the SAFE Framework?

Vietnam Customs has registered to implement the SAFE Framework since 2005, piloted the AEO program since 2011 and officially deployed it since 2015. On July 28, 2021, Vietnam Customs issued Decision No. 2140/ QD-TCHQ on the plan to implement the contents of the SAFE Framework for the period 2021-2025. Vietnam Customs has made great effort to meet the standards and contents of the SAFE Framework.

Statistics show that Vietnam Customs has implemented 13 of 29 standards, 23 of 79 contents; partially implement 10 of 29 standards, 46 of 79 contents; has not reached 5 of 29 standards, and 10 of 79 contents. The assessment said that the implemented contents have basically met the requirements of the SAFE Framework.

In pillar I, Vietnam Customs has completed the legal basis for the authority to inspect and supervise goods; applied risk management in customs operations under SAFE Framework; implemented electronic customs; applied WCO data exchange standards; Applied digital signature; modernized inspection devices; cooperated with parties on information exchange and inspection of high-risk shipments; regularly measured performance; and implemented the Arush declaration on Customs integrity.

In pillar II, Vietnam Customs has built a legal basis on priority regime for businesses such as conditions for applying priority regime and priority policies for businesses; regulations on evaluation, licensing, and management conditions for AEO; regulations on AEO mutual recognition. This result confirms that Vietnam Customs always creates favorable trade conditions and encourages businesses to participate in the AEO program.

In pillar III, Vietnam's establishment of the National Steering Committee 389 has brought effective collaboration between the Customs and relevant agencies to maintain security and safety on border routes. At the same time, Vietnam has officially connected the ASEAN Single Window to exchange information on certificates of origin and high-risk shipments based on the signed agreement and joint action plans.

Do you have any suggestions for Vietnam Customs in the coming time?

Although Vietnam Customs has obtained positive results, there are still many contents have not been implemented or only partially executed. Therefore, Vietnam Customs should implement the content in the SAFE Framework into practice and achieve greater efficiency in the coming time.

The implementation of the SAFE Framework plays pivotal role in customs modernization and reform. Therefore, Vietnam Customs should promote modernization; invest in smart equipment, ensuring control and supervision. At the same time, the regulator should electronicize customs procedures to facilitate trade.

Vietnam Customs should strengthen and expand the AEO program for SMEs, MSMEs as well as e-commerce stakeholders, and other matters related to AEO such as MRA, customs audit... In particular, Vietnam Customs should actively coordinate with other ministries, agencies, and customs administrations of countries to exchange information and recognize mutual results towards development and cooperation goals.

Thank Madam!

By Hong Cuong/Ngoc Loan

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