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Foreign invested enterprises complain about customs procedures

Foreign investors voiced the same complaint that they take too much time to fulfill customs procedures, which badly affects the operation of enterprises.

Arepresentative from Amcham, said at the workshop on the investment environment improvement workshop held in HCM City on April 26, that enterprises not only have to spend money, but also a lot of time to fulfill customs procedures. It takes exporters three or four days on average to get customs clearance. Especially, it would be a big trouble to enterprises, if they export perishable products and they have to wait for customs procedures.

Sharing the same view, Han Jae Jin from KoCham, also said it takes enterprises too much time to “go through” the customs agencie’s doors, which has been badly affecting enterprise’s operation. In fact, Vietnam has been trying to ease the procedures by running an e-customs system, but transmission problems regularly occur with the system.

Meanwhile, Tran Duc Minh, a senior official of the HCM City Customs Agency, has denied the information that it takes three or four days to get customs clearance. “90 percent of consignments can get customs clearance within the day after fulfilling necessary procedures,” Minh said.

He admitted that in some cases, enterprises have to wait longer. However, in these cases, importers or exporters need to have their exports or imports tested in food hygiene as per request by the current regulations.

In reply to the accusation that customs officials always harass businesses, thus forcing them to pay “under table fees”, Minh has asked businesses to call directly to customs agency leaders to report their cases. The mobile phone numbers of the leaders can be found at all customs agencies, where enterprises can see them most.

Nguyen Trung Tin, Deputy Chair of the HCM City People’s Committee, has also advised enterprises not to “lend a hand” to customs officers to harass enterprises, and told them not to give “envelops of money” to customs officers when submitting customs declarations – the thing that enterprises have got used to do. Tin said that in case customs officers clamor for money, enterprises should report to customs agency leaders immediately.

Besides the troubles in following customs procedures, foreign investors have also complained about the complicated procedures for investment licenses.

Yoshida Sakae, Director of Jetro (Japan External Trade Organization) in HCM City, said he knew some cases, where applications for investment licenses were submitted to the state management agencies six months ago, but there has been no reply from the agencies. He stressed that the long time of waiting has been putting big difficulties, and that the problem needs to be settled immediately in order to help foreign investors to feel secure to disburse money.

Lu Thanh Phong, Deputy Director of the HCM City Planning and Investment Department, explained that in some cases, the local department has to consult with relevant ministries and branches; therefore, it is slow to give answers to investors. Phong said that sometimes ministries and branches give different answers; therefore, the department has to ask about the same issues again.

Besides, many documents submitted by foreign investors do not show their capability and experience, while these are the very important factors for consideration to grant licenses. There were also complicated real estate projects, where the land area for the projects was too big; therefore, it took much time to consult with relevant ministries.

The representative from Amcham said that it seems that only the domestic private economic sector can benefit from the administration reform, while foreign invested enterprises are still facing difficulties. Bribery is really a big evil in Vietnam which challenges foreign investors. About 50 percent of foreign invested enterprises in the service sector said they had to pay underground fees.

From VietNamBusiness

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