Experts are calling for Vietnam and other ASEAN countries to modernise customs procedure and policy, which would speed up integration as the 2015 deadline for the bloc to reach full connectivity draws near.

According to the World Economic Forum's report on Enabling Trade in the Greater ASEAN Region (2010), non-tariff measures are considered one of the most significant obstacles to expanding intra-ASEAN trade and pursuing further economic integration.

The report also said that Vietnam 's border administration and customs procedures remained burdensome and time-consuming, while the booming economy has been straining the country's infrastructure.

Le Trieu Dung, Director of the ASEAN division at the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Multilateral Trade Policy Department, agreed that some barriers were blocking logistics integration. These include hefty paperwork requirements, differences in goods classification among member countries, and a lack of legal framework for maritime transportation competition, among others.

Speaking on the sidelines of on Aug. 22's forum held by the ministry to discuss ways to modernise customs, Dung said Vietnam has been quite active in accelerating the facilitation and liberalisation of services.

"We've been listening to businesses about what needs to be done to simplify customs procedures and requirements, thereby improving the delivery of logistics services," he said.

However, he added that it's important to integrate this effort with building the "soft" systems, specifically in enhancing the capacity of human resources and removing legal and regulatory barriers.

Massimiliano Guelfo, Vice President and Director of Operation for Piaggio Vietnam-Asia Pacific, said the company decided to localise all of its Asian production in Vietnam because the country is the "perfect" manufacturing location in ASEAN.

Vietnam was an attractive destination for FDI enterprises that wanted to establish production lines to serve the Asian markets, Guelfo said, but the country needed to simplify customs procedures and improve transparency in laws and regulations before these companies invest in other countries.

Duong Van Tam, Deputy Director General of the International Cooperation Department at Vietnam Customs, said that by 2015 Vietnam would implement the ASEAN Single Window mechanism and most of the custom procedures would be done electronically, thus reducing the time frame for releasing imported goods./.