The Ministry of Industry and Trade on January 7 abolished a regulation that restricted traders to importing mobile phones, wines and spirits and cosmetics through three specific routes.

The decision, with immediate effect, permits traders to import through all ports and by road, rail and air. The restrictions were lifted in a bid to help struggling businesses.

In May 2011, the Customs Department issued a notice requiring the imports to enter Vietnam through customs clearance facilities at international seaports in HCM City, Hai Phong and Da Nang.

It also required additional customs documentation to be provided and an obligation to have these documents approved by the consulate of Vietnam in the exporting country.

The restrictions prompted many complaints from Vietnam's mobile phone networks and handset retailers as it had the potential to drive up costs and put a damper on handset sales.

They said banning imports by road, rail, air and other seaports would cause disruption in export patterns and trade losses.

Furthermore, obtaining additional documentation and having it consulate-approved caused an additional burden, cost and delay.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade said Vietnam imported 4.47 billion USD worth of cell phones last year, a 70 percent increase year-on-year.

New mobile subscribers in Vietnam have gone from 19 million in 2006 to 98 million in 2009 and more than 123 million in 2012.-VNA