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Consultant's Corner

Better understanding desired in customs procedures

Released at: 14:10, 06/10/2016 FINANCE - TAX CONSULTANCY

Better understanding desired in customs procedures

Mr. Bui Ngoc Tuan,Tax Partner of Deloitte Vietnam and leader of Customs and Indirect Tax, discusses recent movements in customs and import-export policies with VET.

Mr. Bui Ngoc Tuan■ As Deloitte Vietnam is the leader in Customs and Import/Export consultancy and has broad experience, what have been the notable concerns among enterprises regarding these matters recently?

According to our recent survey on over 300 FDI companies in industrial zones in the north(including Hanoi, Hai Phong, Bac Ninh, Hung Yen and Vinh Phuc), 47 per cent of concerns in terms of customs and import/export duties relate to managing inventoriesof imported materials for export manufacturing, while 28 per centrelate to customs clearance procedures, 15 per centto specialized management policies, and 10 per centto duty determinations such as dutiable value and tariffs. Generally, the management of inventoriesis still the greatest concern of all enterprises.

After more than a year compiling annual finalization reports for export processing activities and EPE (export processing enterprises) under Circular No. 38/2015/TT-BTC, most enterprises are now familiar with the requirements. There are others, however, still experiencing difficulties in separating materials used for manufacturing (recorded in the balance sheet) and those used for processing (out of the balance sheet), or between the same materials being sourced from both overseas and domestic suppliers. This is a matter customs authorities and enterprises may need to work on together to identify a more practical approach.

■ What moves have customs authoritiesmade in implementing such policies?

From our recent observations we note that some customs examinations on the finalization report on imported materials for FY2015 were carried out at provincial customs departments. This is a sound effort by local customs during this transition period to catch up with practicesarising from new mechanisms so that further guidance or amendmentscan be adopted where necessary.

From our viewpoint at this moment, customs authorities should not focus on handling violations if the report does not meet technical requirements, but rather should aim at instructing enterprises on how to prepare the report and address their concerns to improve compliance in the longterm. Enterprises also expect customs authorities to study and understand their internal control systems, production processes, and reporting schemes to identify a suitable inspection method for the finalization report, especially for export processing activities where the imported materials are not recorded on accounting books and balance sheets.

Another recent concern is whether the inventory issue would be double-inspected via two separate layers (i.e. a customs audit on the finalization report and a post-customs audit). Technically, this matter is not clearly specified in the prevailing regulations (i.e. Decree No. 08/2015/ND-CP and Circular No. 38), so enterprises are still waiting for further clarification,especially in regard to the upcoming revised documents on customs supervision and examination.

■ Given its years of experience and expertise in the field, how has Deloitte Vietnam assisted enterprises in dealing with the above concerns?

As requested by enterprises participating in our survey in August, Deloitte Vietnam plans to organize a series of seminars on customs and import/export duties. The seminars will likely be held in certain provinces that have a large number of EPE/export processing or export manufacturing enterprises. We expect to host the seminars in October, which would help the business community understand the practical application, issues, and risks that may occur in relation to import/export and customs procedures.

Enterprises that have not attended Deloitte seminars, thus were not able to participate the survey in Augustare recommended to access the following links to the survey, which will assist us in assessing their general customs compliance status as well as demand for our assistance:

The Vietnamese version can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DeloitteVN_Customs_VN and the English version at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DeloitteVN_Customs_Eng

With extensive experience built over years of assisting enterprises with various customs issuesas well as years of contributing ideas for draft customs and import/export regulations, Deloitte Vietnam will be glad to be of help. Our professional customs team can assist companies in various areas relating to customs and export-import issues.

■ The new Law on Import-Export Duties became effective on September 1, 2016.What are the most significant changes that taxpayers should be aware of?

The Law on Export-Import Duties,No. 107/2016/QH13, introduces new points in tax policies such as dutiable objects, duty exemptions, duty refunds, anti-dumping duties, countervailing duties, and safeguard duties, as well as adjustments in the management hierarchy among related authorities.

For enterprises, especially those with export manufacturing activities, the most significant change is that the duty exempt grace period of 275days is no longer applicable and has been replaced by a duty exemption scheme. As a consequence, the management scheme for exportmanufacturing will be similar to exportprocessing activities from September 1. Specifically, manufacturing enterprises have to prepare an annual materialsfinalization report by financial year-end instead of a liquidation report or a duty refund/duty cancellation dossier.

Technically, the above change will immediately trigger a need for export manufacturing enterprises to understand customs requirements in the finalization report and assess potential risks to prepare for the FY2016 reporting period.

Based on our experience in assisting enterprises to prepare the finalization report for FY2015, as the reporting deadline is the same as the annual tax finalization deadline, many enterprises faceda shortage of resources and could not meet the deadlinesor fully anticipate all of the relevant risks. For FY2016, many enterprises have planned to prepare the finalization report from Quarter 4 in 2016 and merely need to supplement the data right after booking closes in order to reduce the risks and workload for the year-end period.

■ In recent timesthe complicated and time-consuming specialized examination has been the subject of complaints from enterprises. Why is this the case and what is the solution?

Legally, the specialized examination is generated from the government’s regulations on commodity policies under the Law on Commerce. The detailed procedures are now governed by different ministries, in which customs authorities only use this examination result for clearance purposes. In recent yearsthe painful process of specialized examinations carried out by competent ministries, which can be for one or two months even though violationsare rare, has become a burden on both enterprises and customs authorities. This is a fact that competent authorities should evaluate carefully and consider eliminating or reducingfrom their management portfolio, depending on the risk levels.

It is also not reasonable that the trading of goods between domestic enterprises and non-tariff zones are still required to undergo specialized examinations. By nature, the goods in such cases are produced in Vietnam or been imported and have not undergone specialized examination at import (for e.g. goods imported by an EPE, which it then resells to a domestic company).

In this regard, there have been many supportive opinions voiced by customs authorities at recent conferences seeking comments on draft amendments to customs regulations. Deloitte respectfully suggests that the General Department of Customs better consider its written guidance for such specific cases, and if necessaryreduce administrative procedures and help enterprises overcome difficulties.

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