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|Scrap containers gathered at Saigon Port in HCM City. - VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vu|
Businesses illegally shipping in scrap into the country would be prosecuted on smuggling charges this month, said director of the General Department of Customs Nguyen Van Can during an online conference last week.
The conference between the general department and 35 customs departments of localities aimed to review customs work in the first half of the year and plan for the last half.
A representative from the Customs Department of HCM City reported that more than 3,200 scrap containers are stuck at ports in the city. The situation is prevalent at Tan Cang Cat Lai, the largest container port in Vietnam. The port is facing stagnation with thousands of containers filled with plastic and paper waste. Many containers have been stored for 90 days or longer.
As of mid-May 2018, the port was stockpiling more than 7,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit) of plastic and scrap paper and more than 3,000 TEUs of other commodities, stored for more than 90 days, accounting for 10 per cent of the port’s total capacity.
The situation is partly attributed to changes in international trade policies, according to director of the HCM City’s Customs Department Dinh Ngoc Thang.
China, for example, stopped importing 24 types of used and recyclable materials from January. The huge amount of those goods has to find its own way to other Asian countries including Vietnam.
Additionally, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and local departments of natural resources and environment are in charge of granting scrap import licences for manufacturing materials. However, some local departments authorised agencies at lower levels to grant the licences while the licences cover many kinds of products, making it difficult for customs officials to follow procedures.
There were also cases where businesses imported scrap without a licence or an expired licence, Thắng said. However, these businesses still found ways to ship scrap into the country.
The latest report of the General Department of Customs shows that in the first five months of the year, the country imported more than two million tonnes of steel scrap, worth US$744 million. The highest imported amount of scrap came from Japan, with 546,000 tonnes worth $200 million.
In addition to the imports of steel scrap and machines, Vietnam also imported old boats and car tires. Most of the products have come through seaports.
The General Department of Customs last month asked localities to tighten imports of scrap into Việt Nam, as the metal could cause pollution and affect the environment.
Local departments of customs should follow regulations on environment protection, said the department.
According to Circular No 41 dated September 9, 2015, issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, scrap imports must meet environmental regulations. However, some businesses declared incorrect names and codes of products and gave fake confirmation when completing customs procedures.
Director Thang of HCM City customs department said to tackle the problem, there should be regulations requiring scrap shipping service providers to ask import business to show import licences or to commit to receiving import licences before such products enter Vietnam’s seaports.
Port management agencies or customs agencies should refuse to perform import procedures for businesses importing scrap into the country without a licence and report them to authorities, he said.
He proposed ministries and agencies adjust methods and improve transparency for scrap import licensing activities.
Director of the General Department of Customs Can said businesses importing scrap must have their products registered following the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s standards when doing customs clearance tasks.