CAN THO – The General Department of Vietnam Customs on April 13 issued a press release claiming that the online customs system for April’s rice export registration works automatically and is not touched by customs officials, in response to allegations of bureaucracy interference made by many rice traders.
The general department noted in the press release that to follow the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s decision to permit a volume of 400,000 tons of rice to be exported this month, it needed time to activate the Vietnam Automated Customs Clearance System (VNACCS/VCIS), which is funded by the Japanese government.
At midnight on April 11, the system started to operate, automatically receiving registration applications and automatically stopping operations when the volume of 400,000 tons of rice from the quota was assigned, according to the general department.
Earlier on April 12, many rice exporters complained that the opening of the online customs system for rice export registration early in the morning that day caused them to miss the opportunity while some exporters’ rice inventories remain stockpiled at ports. Meanwhile, the ministry had announced that the system would be opened for declaration registration on April 11.
Pham Thai Binh, director of Trung An Hi-Tech Farming JSC, on April 13 wrote to the prime minister and the Ministry of Industry and Trade asking for help, stating that there was a lack of transparency in the opening of the online system of the General Department of Vietnam Customs.
Binh noted that even though the firm had tasked some employees with working online, waiting for the opening until 9 p.m. on April 11 to make a declaration registration for a rice batch that has not been exported since March 24, the online system did not open.
The firm then attempted to log into the system to complete the registration on the morning of April 12, but the system showed that all 400,000 tons of rice from the quota had already been assigned, Binh said.
Data from the General Department of Vietnam Customs indicate that from midnight on April 11 to 7:34 p.m. on April 12, 40 firms registered for rice exports this month, with a volume of 399,999 tons, on the online customs system.