Vietnam – US signs an agreement on mutual assistance in customs

VCN - On December 6, 2019, at the headquarter of the Ministry of Finance, authorised by Vietnam’s Government and the US government and under the witness of the Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Huy and Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung, Deputy Minister of Finance Vu Thi Mai and US  Chargé d'affaires to Vietnam Caryn McClelland signed a agreement on mutual assistance in customs between Vietnam and the US.
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Efforts to close the negotiation

According to Vu Thi Mai, 2020 is the 25th year of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the US, marking achievements in bilateral cooperation from economy, culture-society, medical, defence and security. Particularly, the bilateral economic relationship between the two countries has gained outstanding progress with bilateral turnover of over US$60 billion.

According to Vietnam’s trade data, import-export growth between the two countries for 2010-2019 reached 16.3 percent per year. Vietnam’s export growth to the US market from 2010 to 2019 averaged more than 16 percent per year.

Meanwhile, the US’s imports to Vietnam in this period saw average growth of 16.5 percent per year. The US stayed as one of Vietnam’s largest exporters and its third largest trading partner.

vietnam us signs an agreement on mutual assistance in customs
The Deputy Minister of Finance at the signing ceremony. Photo: H. Nu

Based on the comprehensive partnership between the two countries, with the aim of enhancing cooperation between Vietnam Customs and the US Customs and in the context that international cooperation activities of Vietnam Customs are expanding in accordance with international integration commitments in new-generation free trade agreements and the operational competence of Vietnam Customs has expanded under the 2014 Customs Law, the Ministry of Finance proposed the Government approve the negotiation of the agreement in openness and approaching to the draft agreement approved by the Government.

Vietnam attaches importance to the partnership with the US, which is expressed by Vietnamese Government’s efforts to remove problems in trade and economic relations with the US to facilitate market access for US enterprises in Vietnam

In recent times, the General Department of Customs under Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance and the US Customs – Border Guard Agency under the US Department of Homeland Security have taken efforts to close negotiations for the customs mutual assistance agreement between Vietnam and the US. The efforts of the two sides gained good results with the signing of the agreement, said the Deputy Minister Vu Thi Mai.

vietnam us signs an agreement on mutual assistance in customs
US Chargé d'affaires to Vietnam Caryn McClelland speaks at the ceremony. Photo: H. Nu

The signing of the agreement is important for creating a legal basis for the official relationship and regulations on cooperation, technical support, information exchange between the two customs administrations to prevent, detect and handle violation acts of customs law.

Especially amid expanding trade and economic relations between Vietnam and the US, mutual assistance activities and cooperation under the agreement will create contributions to fighting against fraud and illicit transshipment to avoid trade remedies, said the Deputy Minister

Speaking at the signing ceremony, US Deputy Chief of Mission in Vietnam Caryn MacClelland said the agreement is an important milestone marking the bilateral agreement between Vietnam and the US. The US expects long-term cooperation with Vietnam on the customs area as well as in others related to bilateral trade between the two countries.

Agreement contributes to deepening bilateral relations

At the signing ceremony, Deputy General Director of General Department of Customs Mai Xuan Thanh said the customs mutual assistance agreement will create a legal basis for the official relationship and mutual cooperation between the two customs administrations, helping deepen the comprehensive partnership between the two countries.

The signing and implementation of the agreement after signing will be in line with Vietnam's guidelines, and policies on foreign affairs in proactive international economic integration and one of measures to realise Vietnam's commitments on trade facilitation in the bilateral cooperation framework.

Specifically, the signing of the agreement is an activity that contributes to implementing the policy of improving the business environment and developing enterprises in the spirit of the Government's Resolution 19 / NQ-CP, annually issued from 2014 to the present, Mai Xuan Thanh said.

In addition, the agreement activities will contribute to protecting the rights and interests of the business communities of the two countries and facilitate import and export goods between the two nations.

The regular and timely information exchange mechanism established when the agreement comes into force will contribute to the fight against customs violations, trade fraud and illicit transshipment, helping correct collection of all revenues for the budget, thereby creating a favourable, secure and safe environment for trade, investment and business activities between the two countries, contributing to socio - economic development in each country.

vietnam us signs an agreement on mutual assistance in customs
Under the witness of Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue, Deputy Minister of Finance Vu Thi Mai and US Chargé d'affaires to Vietnam Caryn McClelland signed the agreement between Vietnam and the US on mutual assistance in customs. Photo: H. Nu

“The signing of the agreement is only the first step in establishing an official cooperation policy between the two Customs administrations. More importantly, we need to ensure the implementation of the agreement in an effective and substantive manner, meeting the legitimate cooperation needs of each side.

“To do this end, it requires commitments and close guidance of the Governments of the two sides as well as efforts of the two Customs administrations in exchanging, sharing information and agreeing on the roadmap of the implementation.

“With the results we have achieved in the negotiation process to finish the agreement, I am confident the two sides will continue cooperation to implement this agreement effectively, contributing to carrying out the tasks of each Customs administration and promoting trade and economic relations between the two countries", Mai Xuan Thanh said

The agreement is based on the model of administrative mutual assistance agreement in the area of customs, recommended by the World Customs Organization to member Customs administrations, which provides assistance scopes and methods to fulfil requests for assistance between customs administrations of the two countries in the form of information exchange to prevent, detect, investigate and fight against violations of customs violations during the performance of customs duties.

The assistance scopes shall comply with the national laws and regulations of each party and comply with the competence and existing resources of each Customs administration. Immediately after the agreement is signed, both Vietnam and the US will carry out internal procedures for the agreement coming into force. Thereby, the parties will discuss and agree on the plan, roadmap as well as methods of the implementation of contents committed in the agreement.

In particular, the two sides provide assistance in the form of information to ensure the enforcement of customs laws and the accuracy of customs duties and other taxes by each customs administration.

Dao Le-Quang Hung/ Huyen Trang

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