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Customs Law helps boost international trade (part 2)

By VNA 12/28/2017 10:46 |

Security-screening luggage of passengers on exit at the Noi Bai International Airport’s Customs Branch__Photo: Hoang Hung/VNA

(to be continued)

Legal mechanisms for promoting application of modern customs management methods in line with international practices

Reliable and effective modern customs management methods according to international customs practices include applying information technology to the management and customs clearance of imports and exports and means of transport on entry and exit and using modern equipment to inspect and supervise goods and means of transport. Other methods involve prior identification; applying risk management methods; using post-customs clearance inspection to control law compliance; and managing information in a centralized manner by the single-window customs clearance method.

The 2014 Customs Law has fully created legal bases for the application of the above-said methods. Decree 08 clarifies the methods of risk management, classification of imports and exports, prior identification of codes, origin and customs value of goods, and post-customs clearance. Circular 38 and Circular 14/2015/TT-BTC give detailed guidance on the application of these methods.

Legal mechanisms for making customs operations more transparent and public

Making transparent and public state management activities is an essential requirement for a modern administrative system. To meet this requirement, the State must make public its activities for its citizens in general and managed and managing subjects in particular to be aware of the position and role of state agencies and of their own in these activities, and of their rights, obligations, responsibilities as well as interests. At the same time, the State must also clearly define the role, position and tasks of related subjects in state management activities.

In line with the above requirement, the 2014 Customs Law has clearly pointed out organizations and persons that are responsible for implementing and applying the Law.

It also sets specific time limits for customs officers to complete their work. For example, examination of customs dossiers must be completed within two working hours from the time of receipt of a dossier; physical inspection of goods must be finished within eight working hours after the goods are presented to the customs office. For goods subject to specialized inspection of quality, food safety or quarantine, the time limit for completing physical inspection will start from the time of receipt of specialized inspection results. For goods of large quantities and numerous types or when their inspection is complicated, heads of customs offices may decide to prolong the time of physical inspection for not more than two days. The Law also requires customs offices to carry out customs procedures on public holidays and weekends and after working hours in order to facilitate timely loading and unloading of goods, exit and entry of passengers and means of transport or at the request of customs declarants in conformity with the customs’ practical operation conditions.

To step up the combat against corrupt acts and violations of customs law and facilitate public supervision of customs officers’ performance, the Law provides a list of acts that customs officers and customs declarants are prohibited from committing. For customs officers, these acts include: causing troubles and difficulties in carrying out customs procedures; covering up or colluding with others in smuggling or illegally transporting goods across the border, committing trade or tax fraud; taking bribes, appropriating or embezzling temporarily seized goods or other acts for self-seeking purposes; and other acts in violation of customs law. It prohibits customs declarants and related organizations and individuals from committing fraudulent acts in carrying out customs procedures; smuggling or illegally transporting goods across the border; committing trade or tax fraud;  giving bribes or other acts for self-seeking purposes; obstructing customs officers in performing their official duty; hacking, falsifying or destroying the customs information system; and other acts in violation of customs law.

Legal mechanisms for promoting partnership in reforming and modernizing customs operations

The 2014 Customs Law creates a legal mechanism to promote investment in technical equipment for inspecting and supervising imports and imports and means of transport on entry and exit. It clearly stipulates that, while the State will invest in modern technical equipment and devices and advanced technologies to ensure effectiveness of customs management, organizations and individuals are encouraged to join in developing advanced technologies and equipment to enable application of modern customs management methods. At the same time, importers and exporters have the duty to participate in developing and performing e-transactions and e-customs procedures. As a result, many enterprises have so far procured modern technical equipment for participation in customs management activities, e.g., Tan Cang company has invested in a system of container scanners at Dong Nai seaport and some companies have built and operated centralized cargo inspection zones.

The new Law also establishes a legal mechanism for individuals and organizations to participate in managing and supervising goods and means of transport and for customs offices and goods import and export service providers to provide and share relevant information.

Regarding the rights and obligations of customs declarants and enterprises in customs supervision and exchange of information with customs offices, the 2014 Customs Law says that they will be provided by customs offices with information relating to the customs declaration of goods and means of transport and with guidelines on how to carry out customs procedures and knowledge about customs law. On their part, they are obliged to provide sufficient and accurate information for the customs office to pre-identify codes, origin and customs value of their goods.

The Law also requires owners and drivers of means of transport or their authorized persons or issuers of carriage documents to inform directly to the customs office or via the national single-window portal of imports, exports and passengers before their entry or exit, and provide information and documents on goods and articles on board vehicles, vessels or aircraft when carrying out customs procedures for them. Decree 08 also prescribes the customs supervision duty of operators of ports or storehouses to arrange storage areas for imports, exports, goods in transit and imports which remained unclaimed more than 90 days after their arrival at the border gate.

In the combat against smuggling and illegal transportation of cargo across the border, related entities have the right and obligation to provide information, dossiers, materials and evidence relating to cases of violation to the customs office, and to request the customs office to solicit expert examination to protect their lawful rights and interests. Drivers and people on board means of transport must obey orders of customs officers to stop their means of transport, to be searched and produce papers, documents and materials. Drivers must also show cargo holds and instruct how to open them for search by customs officers. Credit institutions and insurance businesses must provide dossiers and materials related to payment and insurance transactions at the request of customs offices to serve investigation, verification and handling of acts of smuggling or illegal transportation of goods. Organizations and individuals involved in imported, exported or transited goods, vehicles on entry or exit or in transit are obliged to provide related information, dossiers and materials to serve investigation, verification and handling of acts of smuggling or illegal transportation of goods, and to be present at customs offices to explain doubtful issues.

Obviously, the 2014 Customs Law has created a legal breakthrough in customs activities and modernizing the customs sector. However, for the Law to enter and have effective impacts on socio-economic life, it is necessary to implement it with synchronous measures for the purpose of creating the most favorable conditions for the import and export of goods and entry, exit and transit of means of transport, and investment and tourism activities while protecting the rights and interest of the State.-