The establishment of a national committee on trade facilitation is essential to enhance customs management, simplify export and import procedures and boost economic growth.

Experts at a conference held in Hanoi on May 15 by the United States’ Agency for International Development (USAID) in collaboration with Vietnam Customs said such a committee would ensure smooth coordination between relevant parties and cement partnerships between the State and private sectors.

Pham Thanh Binh, a consultant for the USAID’s Governance of Inclusive Growth (GIG) project, said the results of a survey released by the world customs organisation in April this year showed 23 of 66 member nations had committees or organisations addressing trade facilitation.

In Vietnam, she said, factors such as a lack of policy and law transparency combined with cumbersome administrative procedures—especially inspections and control at border gates—are barriers to trade activities.

Limitations on infrastructure are leading to lags in goods transportation between inland areas and border gates, Binh said.

She said that the formation of a national committee on trade facilitation in Vietnam will contribute to the implementation of Government Resolution 19/NQ-CP which aims to enhance the production and business environment and improve national competitive capability for 2015-2016.

The committee will help increase customs management effectiveness, reduce declaration time and increase international customs cooperation.

It also brings benefits to enterprises such as reducing declaration time and cost, thus increasing competitiveness and promoting exports and expanding markets, Nguyen Toan, head of Vietnam Customs’s International Relation Department, said.

According to Pete Faust, an international expert on trade facilitation at the GIG project, the participation of private enterprises is important in the formation of the committee to ensure its operations meet demands from businessmen and the enterprise community.

Tran Huu Huynh, a representative from the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the formation of the committee will help honour Vietnam’s commitments to enterprises and the international economic community.

Activities and programmes by the committee help reduce trade costs, increasing job and income opportunities and ultimately promoting economic growth, Huynh said.

It needs the participation of all ministries, sectors, business communities, associations and media agencies, he added.-VNA