Vietnam’s General Department of Customs (GDC) and Hong Kong Customs and Excise (HCE) signed a mutual cooperation and assistance agreement on June 28 in Brussels, Belgium.

The agreement, which was signed during the annual meeting of the World Customs Organisation (WCO), is the 18th cooperative agreement that Vietnam has made with customs agencies over the world.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, GDC General Director Nguyen Ngoc Tuc underlined the significance of the agreement in fostering customs cooperation between Vietnam and Hong Kong, especially in preventing smuggling, trade fraud and violations of customs laws.

The agreement is an important milestone in the cooperation between the two countries and will benefit both sides, he said.

Commissioner of HCE Clement Cheung said that the agreement, the 21st of its kind his agency has signed with foreign partners, is hoped to help bring efficiency and economic benefit to both Hong Kong and Vietnam’s important customs work.

Hong Kong is now a territory of transit for many of Vietnam’s import-export commodities. Two-way trade between the two sides increased from 3.1 billion USD in 2011 to 4.7 billion USD in 2012. The figure was 1.7 billion USD in the first five months of this year.

HCE has a reputation for operating effectively in fighting illegal drug transport and enforcing intellectual property rights at border areas.

During the gathering of the WOC, Tuc participated in working sessions and bilateral meetings with the leaders of several customs agencies to enhance understanding, promote cooperation and seek mutual assistance.

On June 27, the GDC delegation attended the opening session of the WCO’s meeting in Brussels.-VNA