20 Viet kieu-imported cars abandoned at Vietnam port

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 Containers of luxury cars and motorbikes that have been abandoned at Tan Cang Cai Mep International Port in the southern province of Ba Ria - Vung Tau since the beginning of this year / PHOTO: NGUYEN LONG

Twenty cars which were imported by overseas Vietnamese have gone uncollected at a port in the southern province of Ba Ria Vung Tau since the beginning of this year.

All of the cars were used and estimated to be worth between VND1.7 billion and VND3 billion (US$80,300-141,00) each, Dao Duy Bong, head of the Tan Cang Cai Mep International Port's customs agency, told Thanh Nien.

They arrived at the port by sea in January and February as the used assets of Viet Kieu (overseas Vietnamese) who were moving permanently to Vietnam, he said. Five luxury motocycles are also part of the shipment.

A leader of the province's customs agency said related agencies confiscate imported cars and motorbikes if no one receives them within 180 days.

According to Bong, the customs agency has sent several invitations to the declared receivers asking them  to collect the vehicles, but they had not shown up.

Moreover, the Phuong Nam Forwarding Company in Ho Chi Minh City, which was declared as the receiver of nine cars and one Harley, has recently asked for permission to re-export the cars, claiming that they were "mistakenly delivered", according to the customs agency.

Bong said his agency has sought opinions from seniors regarding Phuong Nam's proposal, adding that they are clarifying the reasons behind it.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Thanh Nien on the phone, Vo Thi Bich Loan, director of Phuong Nam Company, said they asked for permission to re-export the cars as per their Viet Kieu customers' requests.

Whether the cars will be able to be re-exported depends on  customs, she said, adding that in case they are confiscated, the customers will incur losses.

Asked why the customers wanted to send the cars back at the same time, Loan said the customers worked with a shipper in the US, and the shipper partnered with a forwarder in Vietnam, and Phuong Nam is an agent the forwarder.

So, Phuong Nam did not work directly with the customers, she said.

Thanh Nien reporters found that Phuong Nam is also the receiver of five Lexus cars which were imported by Viet Kieu to the Tien Sa port in the central city of Da Nang late last year.

But the company sent a letter to the local customs agency refusing to collect the batch, saying that they were "mistakenly delivered."

Thanh Nien learned that the cars are now still at Tien Sa port.

According to reports by customs departments at three out of five provinces and cities with sea ports licensed for vehicle imports, 208 cars and 11 motorbikes imported by Viet Kieu were stuck at ports as of August.

Under Vietnamese laws, many assets owned by Viet Kieu, including cars, are exempted from import and value-added taxes.

However, in recent years, local media has reported that people abuse the regulation to bring in cars, especially luxury ones, under Viet kieu names to evade taxes and resell them at a profit, prompting related agencies to tighten their oversight.

In fact, the General Department of Vietnam Customs has ordered  agencies to clarify the abandoned vehicles' origins and documents to see if they were smuggled.

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