Vietnamese enterprises may soon be allowed to certify the origin of goods themselves and be responsible for the certification, as the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) is considering implementing the self-certification of origin mechanism, said the English language news website VietNamNet Bridge.

The Deputy Director of MoIT’s Multilateral Trade Department, Le Trieu Dung, has confirmed that Vietnam is taking the necessary steps to apply the self-certification of origin mechanism within the framework of the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA).

The mechanism has already been applied by Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand over the last two years in a pilot programme. Hundreds of businesses, including those involved in manufacturing and trade, have benefited.

A second pilot programme was kicked off earlier this year with the participation of Laos, Indonesia and the Philippines. Under it, those enterprises that declare and certify the origins of goods enjoy preferential tariffs.

Meanwhile, Vietnam, due to some problems in the legal framework, is still thinking about whether to join the second programme.

Dung stated that it is highly likely that Vietnam will have to apply the self-certification of origin mechanism sooner or later. ASEAN plans to apply the mechanism in 10 ASEAN member countries by 2015.

Vietnam has so far not made any official commitment on the issue of self-certification.

Analysts say self-certification is a growing trend in the world. Yuichiro Okumura, a high-ranking Japanese inspector on origin of goods, said that enterprises, instead of getting certificate of origin (C/O) from the concerned agencies, are now tending to certify the origin themselves. This practice has been applied by many countries under the framework of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, especially ones in which the US is a signatory.

Thoi bao Kinh te Saigon (Saigon Economic Times) quoted Susumu Sato of the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) as stating that the self-certification of origin mechanism may also be put into discussion at the negotiable table for TPP (the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement) and the Vietnam-EU Trade Agreement.

Tran Trung Thuc, Head of the Vietnamese delegation for negotiation for the free trade agreement (FTA) between Vietnam and EFTA (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), confirmed that EFTA countries and the EU have been applying the mechanism for a long time.

Thuc said he does not know when the mechanism will be applied to Vietnamese businesses, but Vietnam is currently being pressured to do so by other members of the FTAs.

EFTA countries and the EU, which have gotten used to the mechanism, may ask Vietnam to apply it as well.

Even if Vietnam is still not ready to implement the practice, its partners will still apply the mechanism unilaterally.

According to Le Thi Hong Ngoc from the General Department of Customs, with the mechanism, exporters must register with competent agencies to become licensed exporters. The licensed exporters will automatically be able to declare the origin of goods with fixed forms if the values of consignments do not exceed certain thresholds.

Thuc commented that it would be better for Vietnamese enterprises to be able to certify and be responsible for the declared origins of goods themselves, because this would help them save time and costs for import-export activities.-VNA