Vietnam ministry defends new car import rule

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Vietnam's Ministry of Industry and Trade said on Thursday that a new rule requiring car importers to disclose the legal origins of their products is necessary because consumers need to be protected.

The regulation, effective June 26, stipulates that all importers of cars of less than nine seats have to show proof that they are authorized dealers for the foreign carmakers. The documents have to be verified by Vietnamese diplomatic representatives.

In addition, importers need to have qualified customer service facilities in Vietnam before being allowed to bring foreign cars into the country.

Since the announcement of the rule on May 12, many car importers have complained they would have to shut their business because it's difficult to complete all the new paperwork.

They also said the whole car market will be taken over by car joint-ventures, who are currently the only ones able to present the required authorization documents.

A group of about 50 importers gathered on Tuesday to sign a petition requesting the government to reconsider the rule.

Industry and Trade Minister Nguyen Thanh Bien said in a posting on the government's website on Thursday that it's necessary to tighten policies concerning the origins of imported products. Many car importers have not provided any customer services so far, he added.

The new rule is an attempt to create a healthy car market, as businesses will have to meet stricter requirements.

Around 1,700 companies have been importing cars of less than nine seats, with a total volume of 30,000 units per year. According to Bien, there are so many players in a small market that the number of car importers needs to be cut down.

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