Circular limits used machinery imports hinh anh 1Illustrative image (Source: VNA)
Vietnamese enterprises should carefully consider before importing second-hand machinery and equipment for production, Minister of Science and Technology Nguyen Hoang Quan said in a recent interview.

Outdated and used equipment would not help produce good quality and low-cost products, he said in a VTV show People ask, Ministers answer on August 23.

According to the minister, to realise the Prime Minister's instruction and the Law of Commerce, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) in co-operation with other relevant ministries had mapped out a circular on restricting and controlling second-hand machinery, equipment and technology chains.

The new circular will replace the circular No. 20 which was issued last year.

Tight control of imports was very important. Second-hand machinery and equipment would cause environmental pollution and waste energy, said the minister.

The circular would help control the use of old machinery and equipment and promote the application of new, hi-tech equipment in Vietnam .

In the near future, the country will sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and free trade agreements (FTAs) with the European Union and many other countries. This means tariff barriers will be wiped out and the country will have to follow international rules, so Vietnamese goods will face tough competition from other countries.

"Importing used and outdated equipment means we kill ourselves," said Quan.

Last year, the ministry issued Circular 20 on ensuring the quality, safety, energy efficiency and environmental protection of used machinery, equipment and technology chains imported into Vietnam .

However, the circular was suspended after few months.

Minister Quan said the circular had faced a strong reaction from some businesses, especially foreign direct investment (FDI) firms that had imported old technologies. Some called for the circular to be reviewed and amended.

He said that the idea and objectives behind Circular 20 were good because it would help state agencies manage and prevent imports of obsolete technology into Vietnam , but it was unfeasible.

For example, the circular stipulated that old equipment imported into Vietnam must be no more than 5 years old, but enterprises said that many pieces of equipment were still good after 30 years.

The circular also required inspections of old equipment in order to assess the level of environmental pollutants, energy consumption and quality, but Vietnamese assessment organisations were not up to the task.

The old equipment could not be assessed while it was not assembled. If enterprises were permitted to import old equipment after a quality assessment, they would suffer big losses from storage fees, and if it did not meet standards, it would be difficult to disassemble and re-export them.

Based on this, the MST decided to halt the circular and replace it with a new one.

According to the minister, the new circular would regulate that used equipment may be 5 years old or more since the date of manufacturing.

In terms of quality assessment, imported second-hand equipment must conform to Vietnamese technical standards or standards set by the G7 countries.

Customs procedures would be simplified, but imported goods would only be cleared at customs when they were certified by quality control agencies responsible for imported products.

Enterprises would be fined if any violations were uncovered, he said.-VNA