The Hanoitimes - US Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink said the US government is “proud” of partnering with the Vietnamese government to support efforts to facilitate free, fair and reciprocal trade.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance on Wednesday launched a trade facilitation program, aiming to support Vietnam in proving customs procedures and enhancing economic competitiveness.
The USAID Trade Facilitation Program will be run in five years with a total cost of US$22.22 million, of which US$21.78 million is granted by the US government and the remainder by the Vietnamese government.
The program aims to support the Vietnamese government to adopt and implement a risk management approach to customs and specialized inspection agencies, which will strengthen the implementation of the World Trade Organization's Trade Facilitation Agreement, to which both Vietnam and the US are parties.
Vietnamese government officials and representatives of the US embassy in Vietnam at the launching ceremony of the program, Hanoi, July 10, 2019. Photo: Minh Tuan
The program will work with the General Department of Vietnam Customs (GDVC), under the Ministry of Finance, to strengthen the role and capacity of Vietnam's National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) and their associated working groups to improve the efficiency of specialized inspections and customs-to-business partnerships.
It will also support the standardization of policies and procedures for export and import, strengthen national and provincial coordination, and build the capacity of provincial customs officers. This will assist Vietnam in reducing the time and cost to trade.
The first six provinces and cities benefiting from the program include Hanoi, Haiphong, Quang Tri, Danang, Dong Nai and Ho Chi Minh City.
Vietnam prioritizes trade facilitation
After Vietnam ratified the World Trade Organization's Trade Facilitation Agreement in November 2015, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in September 2018 approved an action plan to promote the National Single Window (NSW) and the ASEAN Single Window (ASW), and reform the specialized inspection and trade facilitation for the 2018-2020 period.
Resolution 02, issued by the prime minister in January 2019, outlines measures to improve the business environment, including trade facilitation, with a major aim to cut down 50% of goods in the lists of specialized inspection.
Addressing the launching of the USAID Trade Facilitation Program on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue noted that Vietnam has signed a large number of bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements and the government gives top priority to realizing trade facilitation commitments set in FTAs, particularly new-generation FTAs like the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Vietnam FTA (EVFTA).
“Vietnam is committed to creating differences, promoting transparency, consistency and predictability for procedures and public services that the government provides for cross-border goods,” Hue said.
Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue addresses the ceremony. Photo: Minh Tuan
Vietnam’s NSW now interconnects 13 ministries and agencies with 29,800 enterprise involved. It is linked to five Southeast Asian countries. The list of goods subject to specialized inspection has been cut shortened by 12,600 goods to around 70,000, the deputy prime minister informed.
However, much remains to be done to ensure synchronicity and sustainable development, he stressed. Therefore, the USAID-funded program comes to Vietnam in a timely and practical manner, he said.
Treasuring Vietnam-US ties
As trade between Vietnam and the US has been increasing significantly, Hue reaffirmed the Vietnamese government grants special significance to the relationship with the US and expects to further grow the bilateral Comprehensive Partnership. “The success in economic, trade and investment ties drives our bilateral Comprehensive Partnership.”
Two-way trade has grown exponentially, jumping to US$58.9 billion in 2018 from almost zero nearly one fourth century ago when the two former war foes established diplomatic relations, according to US Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink.
The ambassador said the US government is “proud” of partnering with the Vietnamese government to support efforts to facilitate free, fair and reciprocal trade.
US Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink. Photo: Minh Tuan
With the USAID-led program, the US government will work with Vietnam to further simplify and harmonize administrative procedures in import - export in accordance with international standards, he said.
“The United States’ government is committed to ensuring free, fair and reciprocal trade between our two great countries by reducing trade barriers and advancing market-oriented reforms to promote our shared goal of a strong, prosperous and independent Vietnam,” Ambassador Kritenbrink noted.