Vietnam Customs with outstanding results in ASEAN cooperation

VCN - Along with the integration trend, Vietnam Customs is always an active member in implementing regional customs cooperation initiative programs regarding international cooperation on customs within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) community.
Conference summarizing the Mekong Dragon Campaign phase 5 on November 21, 2023. Photo: Thái Bình
Conference summarizing the Mekong Dragon Campaign phase 5 on November 21, 2023. Photo: Thái Bình

Continuous connection

Along with the general trend of integration and development in the world, ASEAN always has timely solutions to encourage member countries to create maximum convenience for legal trade through strengthening customs cooperation. Currently, ASEAN member countries are making efforts to apply modern customs management techniques, especially the standards stated in the revised Kyoto Convention. As an active member, Vietnam Customs has implemented many activities in this cooperation program.

Currently, Vietnam Customs has officially connected the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) to exchange information on electronic Certificate of Origin Form D (e-C/O Form D) with 9 ASEAN countries, and test exchange of export customs declarations with the Eurasian Economic Union, exchange of electronic C/O information with Korea, exchange of electronic certificates with New Zealand. In addition, the system connection has been completed to allow businesses and related parties to look up Vietnam's e-C/O Form D from August 2021 through the National Single Window Portal (https://vnsw.gov.vn).

Regarding the exchange of ASEAN customs declaration documents (ACDD) through ASW, statistics showed that, by April 2024, Vietnam Customs had successfully exchanged data with 5 countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, except Laos have not yet joined the system) and are continuing to test with the remaining countries following the roadmap.

According to the assessment of the International Cooperation Department (General Department of Vietnam Customs), the ASEAN Customs Transit System (ACTS) is a customs transit management system that automates the implementation of customs procedures for transporting goods in transit across borders within ASEAN by road vehicles. Through a common customs procedure, ACTS allows businesses to transport goods freely across ASEAN member countries.

ACTS began official operation on November 30, 2020, with 6 participating member countries including Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The ACTS system is currently operated by the Standing Center Management Team at the ASEAN Secretariat headquarters (Jakarta, Indonesia), with financial and technical support from the European Union (EU) through the ARISE PLUS Project. Accordingly, as of January 31, 2024, there were 190 transit shipments undergoing customs procedures through the ACTS system that are mainly from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia.

The International Cooperation Department assessed that, as a member country, Vietnam has implemented the ACTS initiative with ASEAN countries following the common schedule. Regarding completing the legal basis, the Government of Vietnam has issued Decree 46/2020/ND-CP regulating customs procedures, customs inspection and supervision for goods in transit through the ASEAN Customs Transit System to implement Protocol 7 of the Customs Transit System.

To connect the system, Vietnam Customs has closely coordinated with relevant ministries and branches, including the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Transport and commercial banks in providing guarantees. In addition, Vietnam Customs also received support from the ARISE PLUS Project to complete the installation of the ACTS system (updated with full functionality of the new version). The first transit guarantee transaction through the ACTS system in Vietnam was successfully carried out in February 2024 through Moc Bai Customs Branch (Tay Ninh).

In addition, Vietnam Customs also actively participates in building the ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN). This is an 8-digit list of goods used by Customs of ASEAN countries and is built based on the HS List of the World Customs Organization (WCO). Currently, ASEAN countries have implemented the 2022 version of the AHTN List.

Vietnam has also completed relevant legal documents to implement the AHTN 2022 version, specifically issuing a Circular promulgating the List of Vietnam's import and export goods in December 2022.

Implement mutual recognition agreements on Authorized Economic Operators (AEOs)

Aiming to strengthen supply chain security and enhance common interests in trade facilitation of participating parties, 10 ASEAN member countries have adopted and signed the ASEAN AEO mutual recognition Agreement (AAMRA) and takes effect from September 19, 2023. This is one of ASEAN's outstanding initiatives. This agreement is not legally binding and its implementation will depend on the situation of each country following the unified roadmap.

On the basis that all 10 ASEAN countries have implemented the AEO Program, aiming to monitor and promote the implementation of the initiative, ASEAN has established a Working Group on Priority Enterprises (SWG-AAMRA) to carry out research, draft agreements, evaluate legal conformity and reach consensus among countries in the direction of approaching the National Security Standards Framework and Global Trade Facilitation (SAFE) of WCO.

Currently, Vietnam Customs is in the process of completing the domestic legal basis to move to the pilot implementation phase following the common ASEAN roadmap.

Customs cooperation initiative in combating smuggling and trade fraud

Also according to the International Cooperation Department, recently, ASEAN has implemented many programs and initiatives on customs cooperation in fighting against smuggling, and trade fraud, and ensuring supply chain security. Accordingly, Vietnam Customs has actively participated and made notable contributions to the overall results of ASEAN Customs control activities, especially Operation Mekong Dragon.

This is an anti-smuggling initiative jointly initiated by China Customs and Vietnam Customs with coordination support from the Asia-Pacific Regional Intelligence Office (WCO-RILO AP) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The campaign marks a highlight of Vietnam Customs in proactive integration and cooperation to strengthen control against smuggling and transnational crime in the region and globally. Vietnam Customs acts as a member of the coordination team (OCU) during the entire Campaign.

The campaign is a series of general activities of Customs in the Asia and Pacific region that started in 2018 and by November 2023 had conducted five phases (each phase lasts about 5 months). The latest 5th phase involved 25 Customs agencies, law enforcement agencies and international organizations. The total number of seizures of the Campaign reported by members through 5 phases is 4,535 cases of drugs and CITES wild flora and fauna, evidence seized includes 55,200 kg (55.2 tons of drugs), 108,000 kg (108 tons) of precursor chemicals, 157,000 kg (157 tons) of wood and 4,479 products from wild animals and plants.

Typically, through 5 stages, Vietnam Customs has participated in developing and disseminating 115 warnings and 5 summary reports evaluating implementation activities of the campaign stages to all members. In the Phase V Campaign alone, Vietnam Customs and coordinating units updated a total of 123 drug and wild animal and plant seizures. Last April 2024, Vietnam Customs hosted a Conference to launch Operation Mekong Phase VI in Vietnam.

By Nụ Bùi/Thanh Thuy

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