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Opportunities ahead as int’l trade continues post-pandemic recovery

By Hong Ngan

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HCMC – Vietnam’s commitment to trade reform has left the country well placed to capitalize on a resurgent global economy, it was stated at a trade symposium held in HCMC yesterday, December 7.

The symposium, co-organized by the General Department of Vietnam Customs (GDVC) and the USAID Trade Facilitation Program, brought together over 200 representatives from State agencies, trade associations and the business community to review recent trade facilitation measures and set out a roadmap for further reforms.

The symposium underlined the U.S.’ ongoing support for the Vietnamese Government’s reform efforts.

Since 2018, the USAID Trade Facilitation Program has worked closely with the GDVC, focusing on streamlining specialized inspections (SI), an essential import-export procedure that ensures import-export goods meet safety and quality standards.

“The USAID Trade Facilitation Program’s support could not have been better timed, particularly in relation to Vietnam’s implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). The program has supported Vietnam in carrying out effective regulatory and administrative reforms through a range of activities, including technical assistance for the application of risk management in customs, capacity building and the development of effective public-private partnerships,” said Nguyen Duc Chi, Deputy Minister of Finance.

During the event, plenary and panel sessions provided a platform for participants to discuss Vietnam’s recent trade reforms, including the implementation of the WTO-TFA and the recently approved Customs Development Strategy to 2030, which sets out concrete measures for the GDVC to become a fully digitalized customs administration.

The Vietnamese Government’s commitment to reform is evidenced by the results. Vietnam is on track to implement its commitments under WTO-TFA ahead of schedule, with full compliance expected by the end of 2024. By the beginning of 2020, the number of goods subject to SI had declined by 12,600 (15%).

“For two decades, USAID has helped Vietnam develop a more attractive business environment. Our joint efforts have helped traders save money and time, fueling greater investment and improving Vietnam’s national competitiveness. Private sector engagement has been and will continue to be critical to ongoing success. USAID looks forward to a strong collective effort to continue this momentum,” said USAID Vietnam Deputy Mission Director Bradley Bessire.

As the symposium turned its attention to the future, participants emphasized the importance of public-private sector dialogue as a driver of trade reform. With over 830,000 private sector enterprises accounting for over 43% of Vietnam’s GDP, platforms that enhance dialogue between the government and the business community are becoming increasingly important.

The five-year, US$21.7 million USAID Trade Facilitation Program (2018-2023) is supporting the Vietnamese Government to adopt a risk-management approach to customs and specialized inspections, strengthening the implementation of the WTO-TFA.

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