HCM City customs officials are working at a customs office (Source: File Photo)

HCM City (VNA) – Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Customs has said it always defines trade facilitation as one of its most important tasks.

At a seminar on comprehensive approaches to trade facilitation and capacity improvement for businesses held in the city on May 31, the department reported that e-declaration and handling dossiers online have helped businesses save much time, costs and manpower.

Ho Chi Minh City is home to over 140,000 active firms with customs filing, accounting for 40 percent of the country’s total.

According to the department, nine out of 18 ministries and agencies have so far connected with the national single window. The city’s customs sector has also renewed its supervision and risk management, adopted technological advances in its automatic cargo clearance system and built e-permit, e-payment and e-certification of origin systems.

Deputy Director of the municipal chapter of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry Tran Ngoc LIem acknowledged progress in customs procedures reform but also admitted existing hindrances, saying that delayed customs clearance is the result of a number of overlapping legal regulations.

Statistics show that Vietnam has 256 documents instructing specialised management, including 20 customs laws and ordinances, he added.

Dinh Ngoc Thang, Deputy Director of the city’s Department of Customs, said licensing for exports-imports and specialised inspections are major obstacles to customs clearance.

He called for closer cooperation among ministries, departments and the business community throughout the customs procedure reform.

In the near future, the department plans to halve the time needed to process customs clearance and work with specialised inspection agencies to reduce the timeline for handling specialised inspection procedures to 5-7 days, from the current 10-15 days.-VNA