Viet Nam, People's Republic of China Push to Ease Cross-border Trade

While tightened control by Viet Nam and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in response to the COVID-19 epidemic may have slowed down customs procedures and trade, the two countries continue to work on easing import/export at the border through cooperation and discussions. 

On 17 April, the two countries agreed to restore the customs clearance time at the Tan Thanh Border Gate in Son, Viet Nam, to 8-11 am and 12-4 pm and open the border gate for customs clearance on weekends. This agreement was reached following a call between Mr. Tran Tuan Anh, Viet Nam's Industry and Trade Minister, Mr. Ni Yuefeng, PRC’s Head of the General Administration of Customs, and Mr. Zhong Shan, PRC’s Minister of Commerce. It reverts a previous decision issued on 5 April, which reduced the time for customs clearance at the border gate to 5 hours a day and stopped processing customs clearance on Saturdays and Sundays. Reduced time in processing of goods has caused piling up of containers carrying agricultural produce at the border gates. 

Furthermore, Viet Nam also requested the following measures to further normalize trade:

  • Simplification of inspection procedures for Vietnamese agricultural produce, 
  • Redirecting goods to other border gates, 
  • Increasing the import of agricultural produce through the Pingxiang-Dong Dang railway, 
  • Expanding the list of fruits and agriculture produce eligible for imports through the Dong Dang-Pingxiang railway,
  • Opening the market to a number of Vietnamese agricultural produce and products, 
  • Extending the list of Vietnam's fishmeal exporters, and 
  • Restoring exporter status to some Vietnamese businesses in the seafood and rice sectors.


Working Session for Cross-border Trade Issues

Earlier on 16 April 2020, Mr. Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Viet Nam Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Mr. Xiong Bo, PRC Ambassador to Viet Nam held a working session in Hanoi, Viet Nam to discuss how to improve cross-border trade issues between the two countries and further facilitate the exchange of agricultural products amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has halted normal trade, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The Ministry estimates first quarter fruit exports to China fell 29.4% year-on-year to $300 million.

Minister Cuong urged the Ambassador to help facilitate online procedures to address technical issues that will allow export of more Vietnamese agricultural products to the PRC. The shortened hours of customs offices at certain border gates was also discussed, including the need for more human resources to maximize the customs offices’ operating time. 

The PRC Ambassador underscored the importance of strict controls due to the epidemic, and acknowledged the need to promote trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. The PRC customs has adopted measures to shorten the time needed to complete customs clearance, explained Mr. Xiong. He also suggested that Viet Nam expand cargo parking areas to ease congestion at border gates, including the Tan Thanh and Huu Nghi border crossing points, optimize railway links, and launch online medical declaration services for drivers.

The PRC Ambassador also suggested developing a disease prevention mechanism at the Government level of PRC and Viet Nam, with participation of relevant agencies from central to grassroots levels.

Last Updated: 15 May 2020