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USAID helps ease congestion at Cat Lai Port

The Saigon Times

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HCMC – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the General Department of Vietnam Customs on May 19 announced an action plan to reduce congestion at the Cat Lai Terminal in HCMC, the busiest container port in the country.

The action plan, released at a seminar jointly held by the two agencies, included 21 recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the port to meet the increasing demand, the local media reported.

Before the Covid-19 outbreak, the port was operating at full capacity, while the demand measured by the container volume was forecast to double by 2030.

The action plan is the result of a prefeasibility study on anti-congestion and facilitating trade logistics at the Cat Lai Port conducted by the USAID Trade Facilitation Program between May 2020 and March 2021.

Under the study, the operation of the 160-hectare port has been comprehensively considered to assess its effectiveness and bottlenecks to increase the port’s handling capacity and offer 21 recommendations for the local authorities and the relevant agencies for consideration.

These recommendations range from leveraging information technology solutions to enhance information flows and cargo clearance to upgrading port facilities and improving operational performance.

In addition, through USAID’s INVEST project, USAID is working with the Ministry of Transport’s Vietnam Maritime Administration to consider sectors involving the public-private partnership, which is an effective way to mobilize capital for large infrastructure projects.

Mai Xuan Thanh, deputy head of the General Department of Vietnam Customs, said as international trade had gradually recovered from Covid-19, addressing congestion at the Cat Lai Port had become a priority. Anti-congestion measures were expected to facilitate international trade, contributing to increasing Vietnam’s competitiveness in the region and the world.

“Easing congestion at Vietnam’s ports will become increasingly important as trade rebounds in the post-Covid-19 environment,” Mission Director for USAID/Vietnam Ann Marie Yatishock said, adding that the Cat Lai Port prefeasibility study conducted by USAID recommended an action plan for Vietnam’s busiest container port, reaffirming the USAID’s commitment to supporting the Vietnamese Government facilitate trade and investment and increase its competitiveness.

Some 4.9 million 20-foot containers are handled in HCMC per year, equivalent to about three million trucks or more than 8,000 trucks per day. Cat Lai Port handles over 92% of this volume and half of the country’s total container volume.

The US$21.7-million USAID Trade Facilitation Program conducted from 2018 to 2023 is aimed at supporting Vietnam to adopt a risk-management approach to customs and specialized inspection and strengthening the implementation of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.

The program, in association with the General Department of Vietnam Customs, is aimed at standardizing customs procedures, enhancing coordination between the State and provincial agencies and improving the capability of customs officials, thus strengthening Vietnam’s trade and investment environment.

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