Ho Chi Minh City Customs officers check import and export goods Photo: T.H
Removing obstacles to imported seafood
Regarding the regulations on the exemption from the quarantine of imported non-commercial aquatic animal products, according to Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department, currently, the Veterinary Department does not accept registration dossiers for animal quarantine for imported non-commercial shipments (non-payment) of individuals, organizations and enterprises.
In Circular No. 26/2016/TT- BNNPTNT dated June 30, 2016, Circular 06/2022/TT- BNNPTNT dated July 28, 2022 of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development does not explain the concept of “Make test samples”; which unit has the function of importing aquatic animal products as test samples; on what basis the prototyping function is determined; the suitable quantity to make test samples. The above regulations also do not specifically stipulate the quarantine exemption of gifts for non-commercial (non-payment) imports of individuals, organizations and enterprises etc. Therefore, it is difficult for enterprises to import this type of product.
In order to remove obstacles for businesses, Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department proposed a solution, which is to propose to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to adjust and supplement Circular No. 26/2016/TT-BNNPTNT with the following contents: Exemption Quarantine for non-commercial (non-payment) import of individuals, organizations and enterprises: Goods for testing, other samples, gifts; establishments that identify aquatic animal products as test samples, specify the quantity of non-commercial imported goods exempted from quarantine.
In addition, according to the regulations on quarantine of imported live aquatic animals, at present, quarantine procedures are carried out at the Veterinary Office through the national single window system (mainly) or by paper documents. For the case of registration through the national single-window system, the customs authority will manually look up the registration certificate, transport certificate and quarantine results.
However, in fact, there are cases where the Veterinary Authority issues quarantine results with a smaller number than the number of enterprises that have registered for quarantine, have been issued with a transport certificate, and are handled by the Customs for preservation, for the following reasons: The number of dead goods, the enterprise’s self-consumption (sanctioned by the quarantine agency) or other cases, etc.
In these cases, some veterinary agencies do not show the number of dead animals on the Quarantine Certificate, nor notify the Customs office, but only notify the enterprise of the end of the quarantine period (with confirmation of the number of deaths), the Customs only knows when the enterprise presents this document.
Therefore, the customs authority cannot be proactive in updating the results of quarantine and carrying out customs procedures. The Customs Authority also wondered if the Veterinary Authority sanctioned an enterprise to arbitrarily consume goods while waiting for the results of the quarantine according to the quarantine law, would the Customs Authority handle violations of arbitrarily using the goods during the preservation period according to the Customs law.
From the above fact, Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department recommends that in case the Veterinary Department issues the quarantine results with the quantity that is inconsistent with the registration certificate, the transport certificate, the number of dead animals must be clearly shown on the quarantine certificate or be updated the confirmation notice on the National Single Window System so that the Customs can search and carry out the customs clearance procedures for businesses themselves.
At the same time, Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department proposed, in case the Veterinary agency sanctioned an enterprise to arbitrarily consume goods while waiting for the quarantine results according to the quarantine law, if the Quarantine agency has sanctioned the enterprise, the customs authority will not carry out the sanction.
It is difficult to identify goods that are exempted from specialized inspection
Regulations on the exemption from state inspection of food safety for gifts, in Article 13 of Decree No. 15/2018/ND-CP dated February 2, 2018, of the Government detailing the implementation of a number of Articles of the Law on Food Safety stipulates: “The cases are exempted from state inspection of imported food safety (except for cases with food safety warnings), including Gifts within the import duty-free quota in accordance with tax laws; the product is a test or research sample with a suitable quantity for testing or research purposes certified by an organization or individual”.
With the above regulation, the Customs authorities have difficulty in determining the cases exempt from food safety inspection: Because the provisions on the exemption from food safety inspection for gifts within the import duty-free quota according to the provisions of tax law are difficult to implement because gifts of the same shipment cannot be separated from the exempted and non-exempted food safety inspection.
In addition, the exemption from food safety inspection for products that are test or research samples with a suitable quantity for testing or research purposes certified by organizations and individuals, creates many problems, because the content of the above decree does not explain what the concept of “prototyping or research” is; or the basis for determination; the quantity that is suitable; and any organization or individual has the function of certification.
From the above problems, Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department recommends that for goods used for testing or research, it is necessary to clearly specify the basis of determination; how many and which organization has the validation function. At the same time, it is recommended that the General Department of Customs consult with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on these problems.
Additionally, according to the Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department, the regulations on state inspection of food safety and quarantine for gifts of individuals that exceed the import duty-free quota also create problems. Specifically, goods subject to state inspection of food safety, when an individual registers for inspection, is required to have a product announcement while that individual cannot follow the procedures for product announcement; functional foods must have product announcements; the goods are frozen seafood products exceeding the tax-free quota, etc.
However, when the individual registers for quarantine, the Veterinary Service replies that they do not have to register for quarantine. However, in Section B – List of aquatic animals and animal products exempted from quarantine in Circular 06/2022/TT-BNNPTNT does not stipulate the case of gifts of individuals that are exempted from quarantine. Therefore, in order to create favorable conditions for businesses, relevant ministries and sectors need to have specific regulations to facilitate importers in carrying out registration procedures for specialized inspection, as requested by Ho Chi Minh City Customs.