Tag Archives: import

Vietnam Guidance on Import of Used Goods – Relaxation of Import Duties for Finance Leasing Companies

DIFFICULTIES AS TO THE IMPORT OF USED GOODS AND RELAXATION ON IMPORT DUTY FOR FINANCE LEASING COMPANIES IN VIETNAM –

OUTLOOK ON THE EUROPEAN UNION – VIETNAM FREE TRADE AGREEMENT (EVFTA)

Circular No. 23/2015/TT-BKHCN on promulgating the import of used machinery, equipment and manufacture lines, issued by the Minister of Science and Technology on November 13 2015 (Circular 23) sets up conditions on the import of Used Equipment. As the conditions of machinery under 10 years of age and in compliance with standards of safety, energy saving and environment protection, were too strict for foreign projects, a list of exemptions approved by competent authorities has been established. Circular 23 needs to be clarified concerning the criteria – of exemption, of compliance with the National Technical Regulations and National Standards – which Used Equipment imported in Vietnam must satisfy.

Three recommendations can be articulated: if the Used Equipment is imported for new or expanded investment projects, the Circular should define precisely the competent authority to issue the certification list and guide the import procedure. Moreover, the Ministry of Science and Technology should promulgate more detailed provisions on safety and energy saving and environment protection. Finally, officials in charge of examination of standards should be dispatched prior to the shipment.

Part 1 of Official Letter 504/TXNK-CST issued by the Import-Export Department of Customs General Department on March 22 2016 (Letter 504) stated that Decree 39/2014/ND-CP of the Government dated 7 may 2014 was not applicable to goods imported by a finance leasing company to an export processing enterprise (EPE). This means that a declaration and the payment of the import duties in compliance with the laws are needed. Nevertheless, Letter 504 points out that the procedure is different from the one to create fixed assets for the EPE. The EPE bears the duty to declare and pay for the import in order to use the finance leasing assets, even though it is already included in the leasing contract and that it should be exempted of it.

An exemption of import duty for the leased equipment imported by an EPE is necessary, as it was stated in the previous Letter 16587/BTC-CTCHQ of the General Customs Department on November 29 2013. Official Letter 4463/BTC-TCHQ issued on April 4 2016 recognizes the effectiveness of Letter 16587 in part, in spite of Letter 504, but its coverage is limited.

In case of agreements to purchase the machinery at the end of the finance leasing, the equipment becomes a fixed asset of the lessee. It is easier to raise the import duty on goods imported to create fixed assets to the EPE. If the procedure to import leasing goods is carried by an EPE, it should be exempted through a Letter amending Letter 504.

The taxes on assets imported for leasing should be equal to those paid when carried by the EPE itself. The applicable Decree 39/2014/ND-CP does not have specific regulations for finance leasing assets contrary to the previous Decree 16/2001/ND-CP. It should be reintroduced so a more practical regulation on import of goods under finance leasing contract prevails.

Another issue deals with the payment of the taxes related to Incoterms’ conditions on import of goods into Vietnam’s territory. Under Circular 103/2014/TT-BTC guiding the tax liability of foreign entity doing business in Vietnam, a Foreign Contractor Tax (FCT) including Value Added Tax (VAT) on input and output and Corporate Income Tax (CIT) must be applied. Pursuant to the circular, if a foreign entity sells goods under Incoterms rules, it is responsible for any risk relating to goods delivery in Vietnam. Nonetheless, the transportation and delivery of goods is mostly carried out by transportation agencies. The foreign entities do not benefit from transportation but must pay the CIT from the goods and services receivable by the buyer. Moreover, in case of import with a delivery duty paid (DDP) condition, the buyer will pay the VAT output when it should be at the expense of the seller. There may be some difficulties for the buyer to be refunded.

The calculation of the FCT should be reviewed to ensure the true purpose of the FCT : the responsibility of the seller at any risk until the goods are delivered. Besides, regulations for the deduction of VAT import for the seller under DDP conditions should be considered.

One of the concern deals with the restriction on import of used equipment. The provisions of Circular 23 are explicit: machinery over 10 years cannot be imported, unless it constitutes an exemption listed by a competent authority. Through this regulation, importers must provide certificate of the age and manufacturing standard of Used Equipment, facing bigger costs and complications since pieces of Used Equipment can be of different ages.

Besides, this regulation prevents enterprises from repairing their machinery and is not realistic regarding external factors such as: quality of the equipment, time of use, maintenance, repairing conditions etc. A newer but lower quality equipment would be preferred leading to bigger costs of repair, energy and finally to a higher impact on the environment.

Two cases of exemption are stipulated in Circular 23 to import Used Machinery over 10 years of age. The first one is the equipment belonging to an investment project with a decision of the competent authority on investment policies plus an investment registration certificate issued in accordance with the Law on Investment. The second one occurs when an enterprise has to import a piece of machinery older than 10 years, to sustain its manufacturing or business operation. It needs then the cooperation of the Ministry of Science and Technology to consider the firm’s proposal and document. More details to implement these procedures should be given.

Outlook on the EVFTA

The FTA is expected to enter into force on January 2018. This agreement will eliminate almost all tariff lines (99%) however, a few steps should be planned in advance for its implementation. For the first six years, 65% of the import duties on EU exports will be liberalized, the remaining duties being eliminated over the next ten years. For a few sensitive products, EU duties will be eliminated over a seven-year period.

These provisions prove the Vietnam’s tendency to open to new markets with deeper integration. Thus Vietnam will attract more quality investment from the EU and this will probably impact its legislation and regulations, such as the regulation on import of Used Equipment for instance. Indeed, the cooperation and the proximity with the EU will probably bring closer the Vietnamese and the European Laws.

Most important issues

–      With the regulation on Used Equipment, investors may hesitate to invest because of the higher costs induced.

–     The taxation deriving from this regulation remains unclear and not quite appropriate.

–     The relevant regulations must be amended as the EVFTA will enter into force.

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Please do not hesitate to contact Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com if you have any questions or want to know more details on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

Thank you!

 

Vietnam Latest on Customs and Tax Compliance – What Has to be Improved to Match WTO Commitments

Over the past year, we have seen significant efforts and progress made by the General Department of Customs in terms of improved regulations, more effective e-customs operations, and increased dialogue and consultation with the business community. From 01 January 2015, the new Customs Law takes effect with its implementing Decrees coming into force on 15 March. The implementing Circulars are also already in force from 01 April with the most notable one, Circular No. 38/2015/TT-BTC. This Circular, which replaces 13 previous customs regulations, is considered the most comprehensive among the new regulations. We are looking forward to more regulations being adopted soon following the new Customs Law, for example, regulations on advance customs rulings, post-clearance inspection which stem from the ASEAN agreements implementing the AFTA, the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, or regulations in anticipation of the upcoming Free Trade Agreements. These agreements commonly have major requirements on advance customs ruling, availability of information, separation of customs clearance from final determination of duties and taxes, international cooperation in customs, etc. The Prime Minister has adopted Resolution No. 19 for a period of three years, from 2015 to 2018, to prioritize these changes. During the implementation process, Vietnam has been receiving much technical support from foreign experts of the WTO, WCO and other organizations.
We have also seen progress in reforming Vietnam’s tax procedures over the recent years. Up to 01 January 2015, the total time for tax compliance is reduced to 370 hours per year, which is an impressive decrease compared with 872 hours annually according to the 2013 statistics. Time spent for tax declaration and payment is also reduced to 121.5 hours per year, with possibility of online tax declaration and payment. Although German enterprises highly appreciate these tax reforms, we would expect that the efforts are not only at Government or ministerial levels but also at the local levels where we have to deal with the authorities there directly.
Notwithstanding the above positive developments, Vietnam still has much to do in the upcoming time. We address below certain major issues and suggest solutions accordingly.
1. Application of blended tax
Blended tax is a combination of ad valorem tariff and specific/ fixed duty rate. Since Vietnam has made WTO commitments in reducing import duty, especially for goods of commercial value imported from WTO members, the application of blended tax could be considered as going against WTO commitments on market opening and tax reduction. We suggest that if the Draft Law on Import and Export Tariff has to include provisions on blended tax, it should specify in which cases it is applicable or else it would create confusion for local companies in Vietnam who are only familiar with either ad valorem or specific duty for each of their commercial goods.
2. Application of quota duty
Decree No. 187/2013/ND-CP and Circular No. 111/2012/TT-BTC subject salt, raw tobacco, eggs, and sugar to tariff quota regime. This means if the imported quantity of these goods exceed the quota as prescribed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade or there is no import license as required under the tariff quota regime, import of these products will be imposed an import tariff of 50%-90%. We would suggest these provisions be included in the Law on Export and Import Tariffs rather than Decree No. 197 or Circular No. 11. Moreover, the Law on Export and Import Tariffs should also address applicable import tariffs for minimum and maximum import quota for specific types of goods and the authority to issue documents governing the application of import quota from time to time. This would serve as the basis for the competent authorities to perform their rights and obligations and enterprises to clearly understand government’s import and export policies.
3. Tariff policies for goods imported for production of exports
It is recommended that goods which are imported for production of exports be not subject to tariff upon importation. This tariff exemption works more efficiently compared with tax refund upon goods exportation in terms of cash flows burden for export enterprises and will help improve the competitiveness of domestic enterprises. However, there should be a mechanism to monitor and request for tariff payment if the goods are then used for domestic consumption.
4. Goods imported for implementation of investment projects
According to the new Investment Law, projects being implemented in certain geographical areas and industries will enjoy tax incentives. The implementing Decrees of the Investment Law or the Law on Export and Import Tariffs should provide a detailed list of such areas and industries. The law should also clarify whether imported goods are still exempted from duty if the investment project is entitled with tax incentives under the initial investment license but is no longer qualified for such preferential treatment due to a change in technology.

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Please do not hesitate to contact Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com if you have any questions on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

INTERESTED IN DOING BUSINESS IN VIETNAM? VISIT: www.vietnamlaws.xyz

THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

Vietnam Current Investment and Trade Issues and Solutions

The Government of Vietnam has made certain success in stabilizing the economy to reach a high growth rate projection in 2015 by World Bank (i.e., 6%) and maintain import-export balance over the five years. Nevertheless, there are a lot of outstanding issues which should be further addressed as analysed below:
1. Enforcement and recognition of arbitral awards – Status, issues and solutions
The major regulatory framework on arbitration proceedings in Vietnam includes the Law on Commercial Arbitration No. 54/2010/QH12, which took effect on 1 January 2011 (“Arbitration Law”) and replaced the Ordinance on Commercial Arbitration (“Arbitration Ordinance”) in 2003; Decree No. 63/2011/ND-CP of the Government on detailing the implementation of certain regulations in the Arbitration Law (“Decree No. 63/2011”) and Resolution No. 01/2014/NQ-HDTP by the Vietnamese Supreme Court guiding the implementation of a number of regulations in the Arbitration Law (“Resolution No. 01”).
Vietnam also ratified the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards of 1958 in September 1995 and the provisions of the New York Convention have been incorporated into the arbitration laws in Vietnam.
The above shows that Vietnam has made great attempts in building a legal framework for arbitration which played an important role in attracting foreign investment over the recent years. However, statistics from Vietnam International Arbitration Centre show that almost 50% (19 out of 44) of its awards submitted for recognition and enforcement were set aside. This is a disaster as this number is far below the statistics in other countries (for example, Japan – 100%; China and Hong Kong – 90% of arbitral awards are recognized and enforced).
The reason behind it lies in the judges’ misunderstanding of fundamental principles of arbitration, which is based on a contractual agreement between parties to submit their disagreement to a dispute settlement forum, where they await a simplified and expedited procedure. However, the judges seem to complicate it and apply very strict standards to arbitration awards that are simply unnecessary and inappropriate. The judges even re-consider the merit of the case despite it being heard by arbitrators’ expertise in relevant fields and provide no chance of challenge. The main reasons for judges to annul arbitral awards could be summarized in two points as follows: (i) arbitration procedures failing to strictly follow procedures under the Civil Procedure Code; and (ii) the arbitral awards in certain aspects violating fundamental principles of Vietnamese law.
Arbitration procedures failing to strictly follow procedures under the Civil Procedure Code
It should be noted that when parties to the dispute agree to submit their case to arbitration by a contractual agreement, they already opt to select a much more simplified and tailor-made procedures than court litigation. They stipulate the rules of arbitration to be applied. The principle that, dispute resolution by arbitration is a contractually agreed process and does not involve timely and costly procedural rules as litigation does, is widely recognized in every arbitration organization in the world. Claiming that arbitration procedures do not follow procedures under the Vietnam’s Civil Procedure Code is a baseless, unreasonable argument and goes against the main spirit of arbitration process.
The arbitral awards in certain aspects violating fundamental principles of Vietnamese law
“Fundamental principles of Vietnamese law” is a very vague and ambiguous concept that is nowhere defined in Vietnamese law. Further, there is also no consistent standard of “fundamental principles” so the Vietnamese judges take certain discretion in assessing the compliance of arbitral awards with Vietnamese fundamental principles. They take the view that anything that is not compliant with Vietnamese administrative procedures would be considered violating “fundamental principles”. Due to the inaccessibility to the court’s decisions by the public, it is nearly impossible to establish a well-founded jurisprudence of what “fundamental principles” are. It is also create unpredictability in the court decision in recognizing and enforcing arbitral awards.
All of the above somehow discourages foreign investors from having their disputes resolved in judicial system of Vietnam. With an attempt to addressing this problems, certain measures are strongly requested to take by the Government.
How to protect the parties from the request for setting aside an arbitral award
Recently, with the issuance of Resolution No. 01, the Council of Judges gave a signal to support the enforcement of domestic arbitral awards in Vietnam as well as the development of arbitration proceedings. Resolution No. 01 provides more criteria and grounds for handling a request for annulment and especially, the cases when an arbitral award is set aside are more clearly defined. However, there should also be a special mechanism to appeal to judicial decisions that annul arbitral awards on an unreasonable and wrongful basis.
In order to do that, the Government should first task a special body to review all the cases that have been set aside. The content of the case as well as the court’s decision must be made public for transparency purposes and this could be considered as a supervising tool of the public on the court and review process.
2. New Investment Law and Enterprise Law – standing issues
Under the old Investment Law, the Investment Registration Certificate (“IRC”) concurrently serves as the Enterprise Registration Certificate (“ERC”) of a foreign-invested company. However, under the new Investment Law which takes effect from 01 July 2015, enterprises need to apply for two separate certificates with different application dossiers. Though the timeline and procedures seem to be quicker and clearer, investors are still concerned about the reason behind the separate applications, especially in the context of administrative reforms conducted by the Government.
The new Investment Law shortens the period for charter capital contribution from 03 (three) years to (90) ninety days. In connection with the existence of two separate certificates, investors are concerned about the delay it may cause when applying for an increase in the charter capital. (Note: Charter capital is an amount contributed by the investor to establish a legal entity). Such delay could result in slow disbursement of the additional capital, which in turn affect business operations of enterprises. Thus, the Government needs to take further measures to prevent such delay.
With regards to conditional sectors, the number has been reduced much compared with the old laws and from several workshops on this topic, conditional sectors will only be promulgated by the Government and the National Assembly. However, in terms of conditions applicable to doing business in conditional sectors and any inconsistency, it is unclear which law will prevail (the Investment Law itself or its implementing decrees, ordinances, etc.).
3. Draft Circular on import of used equipment – New trade restrictive measures?
Draft Circular No. 20/2014/TT-BKHCN is to take effect on July 01, 2015 to encourage imports of new machinery, equipment and production lines that are manufactured with the latest technology. This Draft Circular is aimed to prevent Vietnam from being a “dumping ground” of old technology and scrap machinery in place of China when this country adopted a regulation prohibiting imports of used machinery and equipment.
Despite the good intention of the Draft Circular, it somehow introduces new trade restrictive measures that could be considered as violation of Vietnam’s international treaties and agreements. In particular, the Draft Circular conditions the imports of used machinery and equipment on its usage period of 10 years and remaining quality of 80%. While it is hard to evaluate the quality of technology and production lines due to available information of the products, it is even harder and impractical to apply these standards across all types of technology and production lines. Furthermore, the Draft Circular also requires the imported goods be in conformity with safety, energy saving and environment protection and be inspected before being imported and customs released. This may significantly delay the customs clearance process and create more burden for enterprises, which go contrary to the objectives mentioned in Resolution No. 19 of the Prime Minister in 2015. A question of consistency with the WTO Agreement on Pre-shipment Inspection and WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade arises in relation with the required standards and pre-shipment requirement as well.
4. Tax administration
Vietnam currently ranks 78 out of 189 countries in terms of ease of doing business according to 2015 World Bank Report. This low ranking is mainly due to tax problems such as requiring importers to pay VAT twice on the same import transaction, delay in tax complaints resolution, etc.
It is notable that business complaints do not mostly relate to high total tax over net profit of 40% but the compliance cost and time, lack of predictability, simplicity and transparency in the tax system.
The Government should take immediate actions to improve the tax administration for a better growth in Vietnam’s economy.
5. Privatization of state-owned enterprises – the problem for every solution…
State-owned enterprises have long played an important role in Vietnam’s economy. These enterprises have operated in an inefficient manner compared with private companies, many enterprises operating at loss for several years. Therefore, the Government has conducted several rounds of state-owned enterprises reform. However, setting aside the ambitious target of 289 state-owned enterprises to be privatized in 2015, the privatization process has been very slow and only by name. Only 5%- 20% of the shares are offered for sale, which is too low to attract foreign investors. They will be reluctant to invest in these enterprises as long as they have no chance to gain decision-making power by purchase of shares. The Government must then show stronger effort and commitment in reforming state-owned enterprises to attract more foreign investment in the process.

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Please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com if you have any questions on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN DOING BUSINESS IN VIETNAM PLEASE VISIT: www.vietnamlaws.xyz
THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

Can a 100% foreign-owned manufacturer in Vietnam add “import and export” as a business line?

By Manfred Otto and Hoang Minh Duc, Duane Morris Vietnam LLC

Japanese

A wholly foreign-owned business manufactures in Vietnam. Now, it would like to export production-line materials purchased in Vietnam to other countries. The question is whether a 100 percent foreign-invested enterprise can add “import and export” as a business line.

Short answer: Yes, but subject to the “evaluation” process of the licensing authority. Continue reading Can a 100% foreign-owned manufacturer in Vietnam add “import and export” as a business line?

ベトナムで100%外国資本の会社がその事業内容に「輸出入」を加えることは可能か?

>English

By Manfred Otto and Hoang Minh Duc, Duane Morris Vietnam LLC

現在ベトナムにおいて100%外資で製造業を営む会社がベトナムにおいて購入した生産ライン資材を他国へ輸出したいとお考えになっているとします。このような100%外資の会社がその事業内容に「輸出入」を加えることが出来るのでしょうか。

簡潔な回答としては、可能です。しかし、ライセンス取得につき「審査」の段階を経る必要がございます。 Continue reading ベトナムで100%外国資本の会社がその事業内容に「輸出入」を加えることは可能か?