Solutions to address congestion at ports amid COVID-19 pandemic

(VOVWORLD) - Clearing huge backlogs of containers at seaports and customs procedures for shipments serving COVID-19 prevention and control are top priorities of the customs sector during this pandemic.
Solutions to address congestion at ports amid COVID-19 pandemic  - ảnh 1At Hung Yen Customs Branch of Hai Phong City's Customs Department during COVID-19 period (Photo:

The pandemic is causing problems not just for producers, exporters, and importers, but also for customs agencies trying to manage import and export activities.

The volume of goods imported and exported through the port of Hai Phong, the largest seaport in the north and the second largest in Vietnam, increases 15 to 20% a year.

According to Nguyen Kien Giang, Deputy Director of Hai Phong Customs Department, import-export volume rose 20% in the first half of this year, despite the pandemic.

“We’re seeing problems with warehouse, yard, and port operators and firms who have to change operations to cope with the pandemic. A firm, for example, wants warehouses to store goods because volume is increasing and warehouses are overloaded. The proposed solution is to lease the warehouses of other firms. We always have staff on duty to deal quickly with customs clearance and reduce congestion at Hai Phong port,” said Giang.

Saigon Newport Corporation says many companies haven’t taken out their shipments, causing a backlog at the port, even though Saigon Newport has worked with or at least tried to approach each customer. The situation is partly due to a shortage of employees on both sides.

Nguyen Phuong Nam, Deputy Director General of Saigon Newport Corporation, says his company needs support from the customs agency.

“Different solutions have been implemented for different businesses. We’ll help businesses still operating that need shipments for production and, for businesses that have temporarily suspended production, we’ll hold their shipments at inland container depots. That means those companies still have to complete all the necessary customs procedures for each batch of goods and produce the paperwork when they resume operation. We hope the customs agencies involved will fund the businesses to implement the solution,” said Nam.

Dao Duy Tam, Deputy Director of the Customs Control and Supervision Department of the General Department of Vietnam Customs, says the sector’s priority is reducing the congestion of goods at seaports, especially shipments serving the pandemic fight.

He clarified, “We have sent a document requiring local customs departments to ensure customs clearance within a day for shipments of medicine, medical supplies, and equipment for medical examination and treatment. Local customs departments have been asked not to require businesses to submit the list of medicine approved by the Health Ministry for import goods as raw materials, medicine and supplies for the production of medicine and vaccines for COVID-19 prevention.”

According to Tam, the General Department has issued an official dispatch guiding exemptions from administrative sanctions during the pandemic. An earlier document said customs authorities will accept a scanned or photocopied certificate of origin and the declarer will enjoy a tax rate set by the Free Trade Agreement.

The General Department has asked all member agencies to develop contingency plans for responding to possible import-export scenarios during the remainder of the year to ensure smooth customs clearance and uninterrupted supply chains.