Customs Update: September 20, 2018

Customs Update | September 20, 2018
Authors: Shay Wester, Ian Saccomanno, and Bryan Yeoh
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

September 27, U.S. - Singapore Trade Facilitation Workshop, Singapore: USTR and Singapore MFA are organizing a week-long workshop for ASEAN government officials on September 24-28 on the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. They’re inviting our members to speak on a series of private sector panels on September 27. The governments hope to hear perspectives from manufacturers and logistics companies on TFA-related issues, including your challenges with customs systems that the TFA could address and how you envision being able to effectively interact with governments. Please contact Ian Saccomanno at isaccomanno@usasean.org if you are interested in joining the event.

October 22, Customs Technology Workshop with the ASEAN Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation Working Group, Yogyakarta, Indonesia: Please save the date for a one day workshop alongside the October meeting of the ASEAN Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation Working Group (CPTFWG) for a discussion on the potential of transformative technologies to support customs solutions and ASEAN integration. The event will explore the trade facilitation and supply chain security implications of emerging technologies, including distributed ledger technology, advanced data analytics, artificial intelligence, and global data standards. The draft agenda proposed to the ASEAN Directors General of Customs Meeting and the CPTFWG can be found at this link. Please contact Ian Saccomanno at isaccomanno@usasean.org and Shay Wester at swester@usasean.org if you would like to discuss how you can participate.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 
ASEAN Economic Ministers Conclude Important Agreements on Goods Trade
 
The AEM meeting on 29th August endorsed several new programs that will be important to customs integration:
  1. They endorsed the ASEAN Agreement on Electronic Commerce which is expected to be signed at the 33rd ASEAN Summit this November. The Agreement contains sections that at least somewhat promote trade facilitation, the free flow of data across borders, and the adoption of international best practices for cybersecurity. The most aggressive binding section of the agreement is likely on modernizing domestic regulations on electronic authentication. Many of the provisions in the Agreement beyond the authentication section, including the sections on data movement and trade facilitation, may be broad or non-binding, potentially limiting their effectiveness.
  2. They signed the First Protocol to Amend the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA), allowing for the operationalization of the ASEAN-wide Self-Certification (AWSC) to replace ATIGA Form D in early 2019. The AWSC will allow many exporters to self-certify the ASEAN origin of their goods, making it easier for those companies to receive ASEAN’s preferential tariffs.
  3. They called on Member States to continue the implementation of the ASEAN Single Window (ASW), noting significant progress in certain countries and the lack of in others. The Ministers said they hope that the technical and operational issues of ASW implementation can be addressed during this early stage of implementation.
  4. The encouragement of ASEAN member states to speed up the addition of the ASEAN Customs Declaration Document (ACDD) and the electronic Phytosanitary (e-Phyto) Certificate to the ASW this year.
They also recognized progress in tariff reduction, called for more work on trade facilitation, welcomed recent work on customs integration, and recognized the importance of addressing technical trade barriers. The full text of their joint media statement can be found here and an update copy of the AEC Strategic Action Plan can be found here.
 
RCEP Moves Closer to Conclusion
 
From August 30-31 2018, Trade Ministers from the 16 RCEP Participating Countries held the 6th RCEP Ministerial Meeting amid signs that the negotiations are gaining traction. During the meeting, the Ministers adopted a Package of Year-End Deliverables, putting more force behind the deadline for a "substantial conclusion." They also assessed and backed the outcomes of the 23rd round of negotiations held on 17-27 July in Bangkok where the chapters on Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation and Government Procurement were completed. The Ministers welcomed the successes and said there has also been good progress made in the negotiations of other chapters. The recent progress on these chapters and some apparent deals around tariff offers have raised the prospect that this year’s target of a “substantial conclusion” at the November Leaders’ Summit may be more realistic than past targets. Though there certainly will not be a full completion of the negotiations this year, it now appears that a 2019 completion may be feasible. The following is the Council’s latest understanding of where the key negotiating issues stand:
  1. Goods tariffs: It appears the agreement will not achieve its goal of eliminating 90 percent of tariff lines and that it will instead settle between 74 and 86 percent. India will be at the lower end of that range, having apparently secured a deal to limit their exposure to cheaper Chinese imports. Phase out periods for some of these tariffs may also be as long as 30 years.
  2. Trade facilitation: The limited tariff reductions are not RCEP’s only provision on goods trade, however. The agreement would have a single set of procedures for rules of origin, greatly simplifying the use of free trade agreements in the region. There seem to still be ongoing debates on cumulation methods. The new Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation chapter is also positive, going beyond the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement in some places and endeavoring to standardize paperwork across the region. There has also been some positive work on standards, including provisions sanitary and phytosanitary rules.
  3. Procurement: the recently concluded chapter on government procurement will likely focus heavily on simply improving transparency.
  4. Services: The services chapter is a positive list and short, however it does appear to go beyond current ASEAN commitments. India is continuing to push for increased movement of skilled professionals.
  5. Investment: The investment chapter appears to be reasonably robust, however, debates over investor-state dispute settlement will likely lead to a fragmented dispute settlement regime specific to certain industries and countries.
  6. Intellectual property: Aggressive stances early in negotiations from the more developed members of the agreement appear to be leading to a surprisingly strong IP chapter that may come close to the CPTPP in scope.
  7. E-commerce: The E-commerce chapter was originally ambitious, but then became stuck on cross-border data flows issues and efforts by some ASEAN members to tax digital trade.
Though some of these chapters are ambitious and the trade facilitation provisions may significantly reduce the cost of trade, the agreement’s rules are also highly flexible. Many provisions do not require immediate implementation and inclusion of special and differential treatment for developing economy members is common. At the same time, ASEAN has a history of updating its free trade agreements every few years to make them more ambitious. Even after RCEP is competed, members should continue monitoring and advocating for these updates.
 
ASEAN and Canada Move Forward on Negotiating Free Trade Agreement
 
The recently concluded AEM-Canada Consultation on September 1 moved ASEAN Member States closer to realizing an ASEAN-Canada FTA with the completion of its Joint Feasibility Study. The preliminary report highlights key trade trends, each party’s approach to FTA negotiations, and the potential benefits of an ASEAN-Canada FTA. The ministers emphasized the need for more expert-level discussions to move the FTA forward following the report’s conclusions and expressed hope that the exploratory discussions can be completed in 2019. The Philippines and Singapore had separately entered discussions with Canada on potential FTAs in the recent past, but their focus will now likely shift to the regional approach. The Philippines started exploratory discussions with Canada in May 2015 and with the regional approach now in motion, has decided with Canada to suspend the bilateral approach. Singapore had first launched negotiations with Canada in 2001 but the two countries put negotiations on the back burner to make way for the TPP in 2009.
 
The discussion between ASEAN and Canada comes on the heels of the EU’s revival of FTA talks with ASEAN this past July (the Council’s latest update can be found here) and the negotiation of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Eurasian Economic Council.
Indonesia Raises Import Taxes
 
On September 6, the Ministry of Finance released Finance Ministerial Regulation (PMK) No. 110/2018 as a revision to Finance Ministerial Regulation (PMK) No. 34/2017. The new regulation raises the the import tax on over 1,000 consumer goods. Instead of being standard tariffs, the mechanism is what the Indonesians call an Income Tax that can be paid on top of the standard income tax at the end of the tax year. The government of Indonesia asserts that implementing these measures will reduce the current account deficit amid a weak rupiah and investor selloffs due to rise in U.S. interest rates and fear of contagion from the wider emerging market turbulence. Imported personal care items and electric appliances which have domestic substitutes will be charged a 10 percent tax as opposed to the previous rate of 2.5 percent. Luxury cars will also be taxed at 10 percent. Items such as alcohol, textile products, and electronic audiovisual appliances will see a 5 to 7.5 percent under the new regulation. Despite the steep increase, the government predicts that the impact on inflation will be minimal. Full text and the complete list of taxable items can be found here in Bahasa Indonesia. This is not the first time that the government has introduced regulations which raised import taxes, having acted similarly in 2013 and 2015. In 2013, the government issued PMK No. 175/2013 to control imports during the Taper Tantrum by raising tariffs for over 500 consumer goods from 2.5 percent to 7.5 percent. In 2015, PMK No. 107/2015 was issued to impose a 10 percent tax on over 200 goods which were previously charged a luxury goods tax.
 
Around the same time that the new taxes were approved, the Ministry of Finance also lowered the de minimis rate from US$100 to US$75 per day in Finance Ministry Regulation No 112/2018, increasing the amount of imports that would be subject to taxes. The new de minimis enters force on October 10.
 
The government’s decision to raise import taxes along with other measures has been motivated by the latest foreign sell-off of Indonesian assets that followed reports showing the current account deficit had widened in the second quarter, putting further pressure on interest rates and the Rupiah. In mid September, Indonesia’s Rupiah dropped to its weakest level since the 1998 Asian financial, closing at Rp14,930 per dollar. The current account deficit was US$8 billion in the second quarter, twice the total value of consumer goods imported in the same period. Imports for July 2018 far outstripped exports at 24.5 percent to 11.4 percent. Because the tariffs are so small and on such a narrow range of products, mostly in the relatively small consumer sector, it is unlikely they will have a significant short-term effect on the deficit. Bank Indonesia has in recent months raised its benchmark interest rates to prop up the Rupiah. OJK has collaborated with the Finance Ministry and Bank Indonesia to monitor market players to prevent speculative transactions that may have impacted the current negative sentiment. Ordinarily, Indonesia’s current account deficit and reliance on foreign portfolio investment to finance it is not a significant challenge. However, it did leave the country particularly exposed to last quarter’s instability in developing markets, which the government fears will continue. At the same time, foreign direct investment, which is much steadier during periods of turbulence, has been falling as election season begins.
 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

Multilateral Trade Agreements
Customs cooperation pact may conclude by 2019: BIMSTEC Secretary General

ASEAN
Narrowing of gaps in latest talks on RCEP: Chan Chun Sing
Improving trade facilitation
Asean ministers ink trade, services deals
Big cost savings for exporters with new agreement

Indonesia
Indonesia Cuts Import Duty Exemption to USD $75 per Day
Liquor among goods to face further import restrictions
It’s official: Tobacco excise to help cover healthcare deficit
Indonesia alters course on domestic insurance and shippers for certain imports and exports
Government to increase import tax for 1,147 consumer goods
Indonesian Government Plans Various Measures to Curb Imports
Indonesian steel products get tariff exemption from US

Malaysia
Malaysian Customs calls for joint ops among Asean nations to curb smuggling
Customs studying possibility of reducing number of private jetties, says D-G
MyCC starts investigation on tyre and beverage companies
Guan Eng: Study on SST exemptions, reductions to be completed by year-end
Who are winners and losers of sales and services tax
Malaysia to go ahead with Asia-Pacific trade pact CPTPP, says PM Mahathir

Myanmar
Call for Myanmar to Act on Illicit Trade
Govt calls for crack-down on illegal border trading
More taxes to be levied on alcohol, cigarettes
12-point suggestion submitted to control unstable currency exchange rate

Philippines
Duterte to sign order to tame price hikes
After visiting Manila international ports, customs chief declares no congestion
Ways & Means Democrats urge Lighthizer not to open trade talks with the Philippines
BOC releases seized rice, food items to DSWD for Ompong victims

Thailand
Digital services set for foreign trade
Online payment for overseas packages

Vietnam
Canada initiates anti-dumping probe into Vietnam steel
Updated import regulations to increase trade
City fights fake goods, trade fraud
HCM City launches automated customs management system

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Multilateral Trade Agreements

Customs cooperation pact may conclude by 2019: BIMSTEC Secretary General The Economic Times 5th Sep 2018
Seven-membered regional grouping BIMSTEC Wednesday expressed hope that the customs cooperation agreement , which is a trade facilitation initiative, among the member nations will be finalised by 2019. The grouping is also expected to conclude the agreement on trade in goods by 2020. Founded in 1997, BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation ) is a regional grouping comprising India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.

ASEAN

Narrowing of gaps in latest talks on RCEP: Chan Chun Sing The Straits Times 2nd Sep 2018
Economic ministers from Asean and six other countries made good progress last week at the latest round of talks aiming to create the world's largest trade pact, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said yesterday. Mr Chan said the countries involved in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) hope to reach a "substantial conclusion" on the trade deal by mid-November, when Asean holds its next summit.

Improving trade facilitation The Business Times 29th Aug 2018
ASEAN is working towards becoming a single market and production base. Trade facilitation measures - such as the harmonisation and integration of customs procedures, as well as the removal of tariffs and non-tariff barriers - are key to the free flow of goods and services within ASEAN.

Asean ministers ink trade, services deals Bangkok Post 31st Aug 2018
Local businesses are in line for greater investment opportunities in Asean after the Asean Economic Ministers (AEM) on Wednesday signed two agreements to remove barriers to goods and services trade within the bloc. According to Deputy Commerce Minister Chutima Bunyapraphasara, who attended this week's 50th AEM meeting in Singapore, the ministers approved two agreements that are expected to benefit Asean's service providers and exporters.

Big cost savings for exporters with new agreement The Straits Times 30th Aug 2018
Singapore-based exporters could potentially enjoy annual savings of about half a million dollars by not having to apply for a hardcopy certificate of origin (CO), said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing.This benefit comes about from one of the two agreements signed at the 50th Asean Economic Ministers Meeting yesterday evening.The two agreements will see Asean service providers gain greater market access, while exporters will enjoy more convenience.

Indonesia

Indonesia Cuts Import Duty Exemption to USD $75 per Day Indonesia Investments 17th Sep 2018
Through Finance Ministry Regulation No 112/2018, which was signed by Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati on 10 September 2018, Indonesia will lower the ceiling on the the import duty exemption from USD $100 to USD $75 per day, per buyer. The regulation will come into effect on 10 October 2018. In essence it means that import tax and import duties kick in when an individual or company - located in Indonesia - orders foreign products that (combined) cost more than USD $75 (including shipping costs) per day, per buyer.

Liquor among goods to face further import restrictions The Jakarta Post 19th Sep 2018
Indonesia Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita has announced that the government will tighten import restrictions on a number of goods, namely alcoholic beverages, tires, iron, steel, textiles and textile products. He said the imported goods would have to enter the country through bonded logistic centers (PLBs) in an attempt to prevent smuggling.

It’s official: Tobacco excise to help cover healthcare deficit The Jakarta Post 18th Sep 2018
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has signed a presidential regulation allowing the use of regional tobacco excise duty to help finance the national healthcare program, which has been beset by a growing deficit.

Indonesia alters course on domestic insurance and shippers for certain imports and exports CMS 17th Sep 2018
Following pressure from industry stakeholders, the Indonesian Government has implemented two Amendment Regulations (Ministry of Trade Regulation No. 48/2018 (the “First Amendment Regulation”) and Ministry of Trade Regulation No. 80/2018 (the “Second Amendment Regulation”)) to amend Ministry of Trade Regulation No. 82/2017 on the Utilisation of Indonesian Sea Carriage and Insurance for Export of Certain Goods (“Regulation 82”), which was approved in October 2017 and was due to come into effect from 30 April 2018.

Government to increase import tax for 1,147 consumer goods The Jakarta Post 6th Sep 2018
The government announced on Wednesday a new regulation, which is to replace Ministerial Regulation No. 34/2017 next week, which imposes an import tax of 10 percent from the previous from 2.5 percent on imported personal care products like shampoo, soap and cosmetics, along with 215 other consumer goods.

Indonesian Government Plans Various Measures to Curb Imports Lexology 5th Sep 2018
The rising interest rates in the United States, higher oil prices and the full-blown US-China trade war have affected Indonesia’s economic and investment growth. In order to improve its trade balance, the current account balance, and strengthen the rupiah, the Indonesian government plans to impose several measures to stem the flow of imports into the country.

Indonesian steel products get tariff exemption from US The Jakarta Post 3rd Sep 2018
The United States has made the decision to exempt 19 Indonesian steel products, namely carbon and alloy and stainless steels, from its 25 percent tariffs, Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita has said.

Malaysia

Malaysian Customs calls for joint ops among Asean nations to curb smuggling The Star 19th Sep 2018
The Royal Malaysian Customs is appealing to all Asean countries to set up joint operations to combat smuggling activities which are getting rampant. Its director-general Datuk Seri T. Subromaniam said he would put a proposal to the Customs Enforcement and Compliance Working Group (CECWG) during a meeting to be chaired by Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur next month. He said the close cooperation between the Indonesian Customs and Malaysian Customs since 1994 had been successful in cracking down smuggling, including in drugs.

Customs studying possibility of reducing number of private jetties, says D-G Malay Mail 15th Sep 2018
The Royal Malaysian Customs is studying the possibility of reducing the number of private jetties in the country which have been found to be among the main factors for smuggling activities being rampant, especially involving cigarettes and liquor.

MyCC starts investigation on tyre and beverage companies The Star Online 7th Sep 2018
The Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC) has initiated investigations on tyre and beverage companies in Malaysia for possible anti-competitive behaviour.

Guan Eng: Study on SST exemptions, reductions to be completed by year-end The Star Online 5th Sep 2018
An study on requests for the sales and services tax (SST) to be exempted or reduced for various items is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Who are winners and losers of sales and services tax the star 27th Aug 2018
The sales and services tax (SST) regime is likely to have an impact on the earnings of manufacturers and importers while healthcare and building material companies are among the major beneficiaries.

Malaysia to go ahead with Asia-Pacific trade pact CPTPP, says PM Mahathir The Straits Times 27th Aug 2018
In an interview with a Thai television network last week, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad reaffirmed his country's commitment to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). In particular, Mahathir pointed towards the withdrawal of the US from the agreement which allowed for the suspension of clauses that were sticking points between the US and the negotiating countries.

Myanmar

Call for Myanmar to Act on Illicit Trade The Maritime Executive 11th Sep 2018
The Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) called for Myanmar to urgently step up efforts to fight illicit trade, during a conference hosted by EuroCham Myanmar this month.  Myanmar was listed near the bottom of the 2018 Global Illicit Trade Environment Index produced by The Economist Intelligence Unit.

Govt calls for crack-down on illegal border trading The Myanmar Times 30th Aug 2018
The government has begun an organised crack-down on illegal border trade at Kachin, Shan, Mon, Kayah and Kayin, which border China and Thailand, after orders were given to the relevant ministries to establish special task forces for the purpose, vice president U Myint Swe said at the (UMFCCI) on August 24. Arrangements are also being made for similar operations to take place in Tanintharyi region in the south, near Thailand, and Rakhine State, which shares the border with Bangladesh in the north.

More taxes to be levied on alcohol, cigarettes The Myanmar Times 28th Aug 2018
The government has submitted its Union Taxation Bill for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, which includes higher tax rates on alcohol and cigarettes, to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw. Under the new bill, which will take effect starting October 1, taxes for alcohol and cigarettes will be raised to adjust for inflation and GDP growth, said U Maung Maung Win, deputy minister of the Ministry of Planning and Finance. “This will also help the government generate more tax revenues,” he said in Parliament on August 24.

12-point suggestion submitted to control unstable currency exchange rate Eleven Myanmar 26th Aug 2018
Ye Min Aung, Vice President of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry submitted a 12-point suggestion to the private sector development committee led by Vice-President Myint Swe. The move aims to deal with the instability of currency exchange rates systematically by the Union government and the Central Bank of Myanmar.

Philippines

Duterte to sign order to tame price hikes The Manila Times Online 13th Sep 2018
President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to sign an Executive Order (EO) aimed at taming the soaring inflation in the country, his spokesman said on Wednesday. Speaking to reporters, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. added that the draft EO would be submitted by Duterte’s economic managers to the Office of the President after a meeting with his Cabinet on Tuesday in Malacañang. “The economic cluster group will submit to the Office of the President a draft Executive Order removing administrative constraints and non-tariff barriers on importation of fish rice sugar, meat and vegetables,” Roque said during a news briefing.

After visiting Manila international ports, customs chief declares no congestion PortCalls Asia 10th Sep 2018
Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña said there is no port congestion in Manila’s international terminals, saying yard utilization at Manila International Container Port (MICP) and Port of Manila (POM) is at normal rates of 86% and 88%, respectively.

Ways & Means Democrats urge Lighthizer not to open trade talks with the Philippines World Trade Online 5th Sep 2018
Six House Ways & Means Democrats, including the ranking member on the trade subcommittee, are urging the Trump administration not to sign a free trade deal with the Philippines. In a Sept. 4 letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the six lawmakers note that the country has been singled out as a top candidate for a bilateral deal. Inside U.S. Trade reported earlier this month that talks with the Philippines could begin later this year.

BOC releases seized rice, food items to DSWD for Ompong victims BusinessMirror 18th Sep 2018
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has reported that seized food items in the bureau’s custody has been delivered to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for distribution to families affected by typhoon Ompong. In line with the directive of Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III last week, Customs Commissioner Isidro S. Lapeña has ordered the immediate release of seized smuggled rice and food items for donation to those affected by typhoon Ompong.

Thailand

Digital services set for foreign trade Bangkok Post 25th Aug 2018
The Foreign Trade Department is claiming to be the first to offer comprehensive digital services to facilitate ease of doing business, cut operating costs and save time for exporters and importers, in line with the Thailand 4.0 policy. According to director-general Adul Chotinisakorn, the Foreign Trade Department yesterday launched integrated digital services for a combined 11 services that will help facilitate and accommodate import and export businesses and reduce processing time and costs for them.

Online payment for overseas packages Bangkok Post 24th Aug 2018
The Customs Department will allow those who buy small goods priced over 1,500 baht from vendors outside Thailand to pay import duties online, eliminating the need to pick up parcels at Laksi Post Office. With the Customs Department's digital system, buyers can track the customs-clearing process and pay import tariffs via the online channel, outgoing director-general Kulit Sombatsiri said without specifying when the system will become available.

Vietnam

Canada initiates anti-dumping probe into Vietnam steel Hanoi Times 19th Sep 2018
Canada would look into steel products from four countries including Vietnam with the doubt that those imports harm Canadian producers. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has launched an investigation under the suspicion of carbon steel welded pipes from Vietnam, the Philippines, Pakistan, and Turkey being sold at unfair prices in the North American country.

Updated import regulations to increase trade Viet Nam News 11th Sep 2018
The application of a customs bond model would benefit the country, contributing to an increase of one per cent of the total import-export turnover according to comments by Minister and Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tiến Dũng. Customs bond systems are designed to streamline the process for bringing goods into the country, thereby reducing the financial burden on businesses while ensuring the government receives all legally required taxes.

City fights fake goods, trade fraud Việt Nam News 31st Aug 2018
HCM City authorities are seeking more effective measures in the fight against counterfeit products, smuggled goods and trade fraud as e-commerce grows at a fast pace, an official has said. Speaking at a conference on Wednesday, Pham Thanh Kien, standing deputy chairman of the national steering committee against smuggling, trade fraud and counterfeit, said: “The use of digital signatures must be better managed” as e-commerce booms.

HCM City launches automated customs management system VietNamNet 28th Aug 2018
The Customs Department of Ho Chi Minh City on August 27 deployed the Vietnam Automated System for Seaport Customs Management (VASSCM) for more than 60 businesses dealing in ports, warehouses and yards in the city. The Vietnam Automated System for Seaport Customs Management optimises the delivery of goods from port dealers, helping customs officers efficiently manage goods at ports, warehouses and yards in HCM City. The system officially started operating at Tan Cang - Cat Lai and Tan Thuan ports on August 24. It optimises the delivery of goods from port dealers, helping customs officers efficiently manage goods at ports, warehouses and yards. Dinh Ngoc Thang, Director of the municipal Customs Department, said that the VASSCM helped to make a breakthrough in customs management in the direction of modernity and transparency, thus enabling customs officers strengthen their work to combat smuggling and trade fraud.