|Mrs. Pham Thi Ngoc Thuy, Director of the Office of Private Economic Development Research Board (IV Board)|
How do you evaluate the contribution of the Customs sector to the process of trade facilitation reform for enterprises in general as well as the private sector in particular?
During 10 years of being assigned to monitor areas related to the Customs sector, we received a lot of comments from the business community reflecting shortcomings and problems in the interaction process with the Customs authority.
However, then we witnessed the determination and efforts of the Customs sector in finding solutions for those inadequacies and problems. The most remarkable thing was not the rapid progress but the will of the industry, the efforts to work day and night to solve the problems.
For example, in specialized inspection reform, we accompanied from the stage of brainstorming, participated in many meetings, reviewed and explored options in order to realize the Government’s direction, find solutions to solve the frustrations of the business community.
During the past 10 years, I have witnessed improvements that might not have been recorded at a specific time, but after a few years of looking back, I must admit that thanks to the efforts of the Customs sector, enterprises were having a better and better experience.
Of course, due to the constant development of trade, import and export, and trade in goods in the world and in the country, the reform never stopped.
We still receive a lot of feedback and recommendations from the business community about difficulties and problems, but in general, in a very objective and open exchange, they fully acknowledge the overall efforts of the Customs sector.
There is an opinion that to help trade facilitation activities work effectively, besides the efforts of state management agencies, the responsibility and response of the business community play a very important role. Could you please share your views on this matter?
We act as a public-private bridge, so we not only observe the progress of the Customs sector but also observe and contribute to improving the progress of enterprises in participating in promoting policy development.
In the period before 2016, the voice of enterprises and associations was still quite scattered and state agencies would often complain. This was a rather prominent feature that the leaders of associations and businesses themselves also recognize.
We were very interested in how to improve this. We totally agreed that nothing, especially those related to securing a large policy objective, can be relied upon only by one party’s efforts; the business side would have to improve a lot.
For about 3-4 years, we looked for forum models, and public-private dialogue models, how to make the voice on the business side more organized, more cohesive, attached with the analysis of experts. This was to help businesses understand the problems and obstacles in reform and trade facilitation.
The initial results were that when businesses were brought into dialogues, they witnessed too many problems to solve. It was a long journey to solve problems. When businesses were involved in that journey, they sympathized with the partner agency, did not have the concept of just complaining and blaming but began to use their thinking to find the same answer.
The role of enterprises in trade facilitation was very necessary, and there have been improvements in the organization of enterprises’ voices. However, reform and progress always needed further efforts and improvements.
In our proposals and recommendations, we always stated that it was desirable to have more regular mechanisms. For example, the General Department of Vietnam Customs now has organized dialogues with businesses every year.
Of course, all customs departments have organized dialogues with businesses, but the survey showed that, besides customs departments that were praised by businesses such as Quang Ninh Customs, Quang Nam Customs, there were other units that received complaints from enterprises.
The reason was that, in the process of organizing dialogues with businesses, they just fulfilled assigned tasks by the General Department of Vietnam Customs. On the other hand, there were units that organized dialogue in order to solve problems that they are also seeking solutions.
In the future, it is necessary to have more efforts from both the public and private sides. Thus, to do this, trade facilitation needs to have a markedly improved effect.