Tag Archives: tariff

Lawyer in Vietnam Oliver Massmann BREAKING NEWS The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement VIETNAM WILL REAP HUGE BENEFITS

Trade ministers reached an agreement on the TPP on Monday (05 October 2015) after five days of intensive talks, following their failure to reach consensus in Hawaii in late July.
The TPP is one of the largest trade agreements ever to be negotiated, involving some of the largest nations in the world with an annual gross domestic product of nearly $28 trillion that represents roughly 40 percent of global GDP and one-third of world trade. Countries participating in the negotiations include those throughout the Asia- Pacific region, namely Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. The TPP is touted to be the 21st century trade agreement, set a template for regional and global trade and investment and incorporate next-generation issues.
The TPP addresses a number of rising trade issues which have been stumbling blocks to global trade recently, such as e-commerce, financial services and cross-border electronic communications. Other cross-cutting issues are also covered, such as role of state-owned enterprises in the economy, government procurement, and other topics.
Vietnam would be the largest beneficiary of this trade pact as a result of its strong trade ties with the United States, and its highly competitive positions in industries such as manufacturing where China is gradually losing its competitive advantage. Vietnam is also considered as one of the countries among Japan, Malaysia, Brunei, New Zealand that the United States would like to establish formal trade agreements. Statistics shows that by participating in the TPP, Vietnam’s GDP would add an additional increase of 13.6% to the baseline scenario.

Some major points in the TPP are as follows:
Free trade zone: tariff and quotas have been long used as trade measures to protect domestic industries from cheap overseas goods and efficient sources of collecting revenue for the states, especially for developing ones. However, tariff and quotas have been used less compared with other non-tariff measures in the past years. With the TPP, tariff and non-tariff barriers are even reduced and removed more substantially across all trade in services and goods. TPP Parties, especially Vietnam, would gain many benefits from the upcoming business opportunities and open market access resulting from the trade pact.
Trade in goods
With tariff and non-tariff reduction and elimination on industrial goods, high quality- jobs will be supported and trade in a 800-million people market will increase. Most tariff elimination will be implemented immediately, with tariff on some other products will be reduced over a committed period of time. For elimination and reduction of restrictive policies on agricultural goods, food security will be enhanced. Vietnam’s agricultural products will have more opportunities to be exported to other TPP members and gain their competitive advantage due to cheap labors and natural endowments.
Trade in services
Trade in services is of utmost importance to all TPP Parties. Thus, all 12 countries give consent to a liberalized trade in this area. Besides incorporating basic WTO principles (national treatment, most-favored nation treatment, market access, and local presence), the TPP takes a negative approach, meaning that their markets are fully opened to service suppliers from other TPP Parties, except otherwise indicated in their commitments.
Comprehensive trade: The TPP includes commitments that seek to encourage participation and development of businesses of all levels and sizes. Small-and medium-sized businesses, which are quite popular in Vietnam, will receive assistance from other countries to understand the agreement, take advantage of their opportunities, build their own trade capacity to grow fast in the future.
Government procurement: All TPP parties commit to ensure transparent, predictable and non-discriminatory government procurement markets. National treatment and non-discrimination are core principles. Governments undertake to timely publish information on tender, allow sufficient time for bidders to prepare for and submit bids, maintain confidentiality of tenders. The TPP also requires its Parties assess bids based on fair and objective principles, evaluate and award bids only based on criteria set out in notices and tender documentation, create an effective regime for complaints and settling disputes, etc. These rules require all Parties, especially Vietnam, in the context of China’s bidders predominantly win the bids with cheap offer price but low-quality services, to reform their bidding procedures and protect their own interests by disqualifying tenders with poor performance and low capacity.
State-owned enterprises: Vietnam and Malaysia have many state-owned enterprises. The United States and others have some as well which are involved in public services and other activities. TPP negotiators have place emphasis on how to regulate operation of such enterprises, preferential treatment granted to these enterprises, non-discrimination of the state-owned enterprises against other countries’ goods and services. Participating in the TPP would then be a driving force for Vietnam in its privatization process of 432 state-owned enterprises in the 2014-2015 period. The remaining Vietnamese state-owned enterprise will also need to undergo strict reform procedures to meet standard requirements in the TPP.
Transparency and anti-corruption: The TPP includes rules on goods governance, bribery and corrosive anti-corruption, which have long been considered as one of the factors that discourage investors when deciding their business expansion, especially in countries like Vietnam with corruption index ranking Number 119 out of 175 countries globally according to Transparency International. The TPP Parties have agreed on adopting or maintaining laws criminalizing corruption behaviors by a public official affecting international trade or investment. Parties also commit to effectively enforce their anticorruption laws and regulations. As part of the TPP, Vietnam’s business environment in terms of transparency and “cleanliness” would be much improved, paving the way for more foreign investment in the upcoming time.
Other important trade and trade-related issues are covered in 30 chapters of the TPP, ranging from customs and trade facilitation; sanitary and phytosanitary measures; technical barriers to trade; trade remedies; investment; intellectual property; labor; environment; dispute settlement; etc. All TPP parties are conducting procedures to release the text of the agreement, which would then have to be approved domestically in each country member.
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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.

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.

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