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|Customs authorities are tightening regulations to assist in the prevention of illegal wood exporting|
At a recent workshop on international best practices to prevent origin fraud and related issues, Au Anh Tuan, director of customs control and supervision under the General Department of Vietnam Customs (GDVC), told VIR that the department suggested the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) to revise Decree No.185/2013/ND-CP.
The decree, introduced in 2013, provides penalties on violations in commercial activities, and production of and trading with counterfeit or banned goods. However, the GDVC did not mention the form the revision would take.
Under the GDVC’s Document No.5189/TCHQ-GSQL released in August, specific directions are given to localities’ customs departments in order to strengthen border control and tackle fraud related to origin of goods.
Under the new regulations, all wood enterprises exporting to the US must go through the red channel, indicating that they are subject to stringent controls and require further inspection. It also clarifies the responsibilities of customs departments and related organisations. Detailed information relating to imported and exported goods, especially information regarding the origin of the goods, trademarks, and labelling information must be declared so they can be verified by customs.
The customs authority will also prevent register of customs declarations for exported goods if the party does not divulge information on the origin of the products.
The document has faced criticism as it may increase processing time and costs for enterprises, but may be unavoidable to maintain Vietnamese-made prestige in the international market, as well as avoid restrictions when exporting goods.
The move came as a GDVC report pointed out that there was a sharp rise in plywood products exported to the US between January 2018 and March 2019. Accordingly, the GDVC’s Anti-smuggling and Investigation Department conducted a survey to review the sudden increase. During this investigation, four enterprises were placed on a watch list to strengthen controls and strictly check the procedures for exporting and importing plywood products.
Huynh Van Hanh, deputy chairman of the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of Ho Chi Minh City, said that wood export provides plenty of opportunities, it also encounters challenges in the form of illegal transshipments.
Vietnam’s wood and forestry products industry remains on course to reach $11 billion in exports this year.
With the country aiming to reach $18-20 billion in wood exports by 2025, the MoIT stated that the export value of such products to the US market in particular accounted for 48.5 per cent of total exports, up 33.6 per cent on-year.