Deputy PM requests continued trade amid nCoV fight hinh anh 1The meeting of the National Steering Committee for the ASEAN Single Window, the National Single Window and Trade Facilitation in Hanoi on February 6 (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue has asked for the continuation of trade with China amid tightened control of activities at border gates and border crossings to fight the acute respiratory disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

He made the request at a meeting of the National Steering Committee for the ASEAN Single Window, the National Single Window and Trade Facilitation in Hanoi on February 6.

Hue said the nCoV outbreak has caused difficulties for trade between Vietnam and China, noting that trucks carrying agricultural products have been stuck for more than 10 days due to tightened control at border gates. It was not until February 5 that farm produce jammed at border gates in northern Lang Son province began to clear.

The Chinese economy accounts for 17 percent of global GDP and 33 percent of the world’s trade growth. It is also the largest market for Vietnam’s agricultural and aquatic products, making up 27 percent of total export revenue.

The Deputy PM pointed out several agencies’ inflexibility in handling goods at border gates recently, saying they have made some decisions that do not match the reality of the situation such as suspending the imports and exports of some commodities, which has had an impact on cross-border trade.

He asked for suitable goods checks and customs clearance measures to facilitate trade.

Giving further explanation for the farm produce congestion at border gates, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh highlighted two reasons, including China’s extension of the Lunar New Year holiday due to the nCoV outbreak. 

Besides, Vietnam’s international and main border gates, which resumed operations after the holiday on February 3, only deal with goods exported via official channels. Meanwhile, most agricultural products, especially dragon fruits, are exported in the form of goods exchanges between residents in border areas, and they need border wholesale markets that will resume on February 9 to continue their flow.

In Lang Son province, a certain volume of goods have been cleared as owners have agreed to pay value added tax to export them via official channels. By February 6, 60 containers of dragon fruits at the Tan Thanh border gate in Lang Son had been shipped to China, and 200 containers were still waiting clearance. 

However, the congestion hasn’t been solved in Mong Cai city (Quang Ninh province) and Lao Cai province since owners have not switched to official channels, according to Khanh.

At the meeting, Deputy PM Hue said amid the fight against 2019-nCoV, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Industry and Trade need to work with business associations to boost exports via the official channels.

Relevant agencies should coordinate closely with customs, health and financial authorities in China to reach consensus on a process for controlling goods, vehicles and people flowing through border gates. It is also necessary to keep a close watch on the situation to step up trading activities, not only by road but also by sea, while ensuring disease control, he added./.