Vietnam authorities urged to ease quarantine procedures

By Minh Hung, Thanh Nien News

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Peter Bennett, trade facilitation advisor at USAID GIG program, speaks at the conference on simplification of quarantine procedures for import-export goods held in Ho Chi Minh City on September 23. Photo: Minh Hung Peter Bennett, trade facilitation advisor at USAID GIG program, speaks at the conference on simplification of quarantine procedures for import-export goods held in Ho Chi Minh City on September 23. Photo: Minh Hung

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Quarantine procedures should be eased to reduce the time and cost required for cargo clearance to improve the business environment and enhance national competitiveness, experts said.
“It is very difficult for Vietnamese enterprises because in certain cases government management does not have good coordination with businesses and markets, which frustrates enterprises who waste time and cost and face high risks,” Nguyen Dinh Cung, director of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM), said.
He was speaking at a conference on the issue held by his institute and USAID in Ho Chi Minh City Wednesday.
In March the government passed a resolution to improve the business environment, which sets a target of reducing customs clearance from the current 21-22 days to 11-12 days.
“In order to achieve the target, which saves costs of up to US$1 billion, quarantine procedures for imports-exports must be simplified,” Cung said.
“We have to create the same rules and playing field as other countries.”
Since August USAID’s GIG Program has collaborated with CIEM to organize several workshops on businesses’ problems with and shortcomings in the quarantine procedures for import-export goods, especially exports, and explore and recommend solutions for them.
Red tape
Dang Hoang Giang, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Cashew Association, said Vietnam has too many documentation requirements for export products “unlike other countries where quarantine procedures are strict for imports but loose on exports.”
“Vietnam’s strict quarantine of exports is unnecessary.”
According to Pham Thanh Binh of USAID GIG, local enterprises feel there has not been much improvement in import-export procedures.
“Many exports face strict quarantine, including cashew, fisheries, and milk and dairy products.”
Since January 1 quarantine agencies require local companies to submit quarantine certificates for exporting products such as cashew nut, cassava powder and coffee, he said.
A survey by USAID GIG last month of 100 apparel, fisheries processing and logistics enterprises in Vietnam found half of them had products quarantined before export.
“Some commodities come under the regulations of multiple ministries, leading to repeated inspections by various ministries, or even various agencies in the same ministry,” Binh said.
There are some quarantine requirements that are unreasonable and unfeasible, he said.
“For instance, PDF pallets do not require a quarantine certificate under an international convention, but Vietnamese agencies require Vietnam importers to submit a certificate they cannot obtain.”
Binh called for reconsidering quarantine procedures for goods for which foreign importers do not require a quarantine certificate and better risk management for goods that need to be quarantined.
“Quarantine fees should be reduced and procedures should be completed online.”

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