Following the upgrade and spinoff of the Customs Classification Center in Vietnam into a separate Customs Inspection Department, the department has unveiled its plans to improve and strengthen inspection in line with its new, specialized role in border clearance operations.
The Customs Inspection Department has been created as an extended arm of the General Department of Vietnam Customs, specializing in inspecting imported and exported goods to ensure they meet certain norms, particularly quality, quantity, and food safety and hygiene standards.
The agency is also involved in the area of goods quarantine, according to a report by Vietnam Custom News.
An assessment by competent ministries and the business community indicated that merchandise inspections accounted for as much as 70% of goods clearance time in the country due to inefficient examination procedures and inadequate inspection facilities.
To correct this, the new department said it will focus on trimming customs clearance time, while enhancing the process of customs inspection and quality checking of imported and exported goods in order to meet international standards. The agency said it will also be reviewing and revising the regulations for classifying, analyzing, and inspecting the quality and safety of traded products.
This will entail staff training, capacity building, and reinforcement, as the department seeks to strengthen its organizational force from the department level down to its customs branches.
There are also moves to invest in equipment and infrastructure facilities needed to carry out inspections and examinations.
Nguyen Ngoc Huan, director of the Customs Inspection Department, said that in 2017, they plan to speed up the establishment of customs branches and build laboratories to ISO/IEC 17025 Quality Management System (VILAS) standards.
The agency will be setting up Customs Inspection Branch No.2 in Hai Phong as well as a VILAS standard laboratory for the branch. It will also put up Customs Inspection Branch No.6, using for its office the five-story building that the Customs Department in Lang Son province had agreed to hand over to the agency, Nguyen said.
The department is now likewise working closely with the Customs Department in Quang Ninh province to find a location for the head office of Customs Inspection Branch No.5 in Mong Cai.
Branches 5 and 6 are scheduled to go into operation by the end of the second quarter of the year.
Meanwhile, the General Department of Vietnam Customs and the Customs Inspection Department launched Customs Inspection Branch No.1 late last month.
The first branch will begin receiving test samples, analyses, and classification reports of subordinate units under the Hanoi Customs Department. Since the office still lacks inspection and analysis equipment, it will be sharing facilities with the Customs Inspection Department headquarters for the meantime.
The customs inspection agency also expressed intentions to bolster cooperation with customs peers in ASEAN member countries and China Customs, and forge mutual recognition agreements in the future.
Photo: Kborland – Own work