Ministry says no to suspension of petroleum imports

By Nguyen Hoai   May 16, 2020 | 02:21 am PT
Ministry says no to suspension of petroleum imports
An employee at an oil storage space of PV Oil, a subsidiary of Petrovietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Hai Xuan.
The trade ministry has rejected a proposal that Vietnam stops importing petroleum, saying large domestic inventories cannot negate other factors like international commitments.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai said at a Friday meeting that the proposal by state-owned oil giant Petrovietnam (PVN) for the country to stop importing petroleum was considered very carefully but found infeasible on several factors.

In its proposal, PVN claimed that the inventories at its Dung Quat and Nghi Son refineries had surged in recent months due to impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the plummeting of oil prices.

All 33 businesses in petroleum import and export have reported difficulties with domestic retail prices dropped eight times this year and seeing just moderate increases since Wednesday.

The ministry, however, pointed out that the petroleum industry was not the only one facing similar issues. Businesses in other sectors have also been suffering from Covid-19 impacts, it noted.

Stopping petroleum imports would mean Vietnam prohibiting other countries from exporting, a violation of international commitments made in trade agreements and as a WTO member.

"And then, what if they ban Vietnam's main products from being exported to their countries in return?" Hai asked.

The trade ministry therefore concluded that the import ban cannot be applied in order to maintain the balance between the interests of businesses, the people and the State, as well as to ensure energy security.

PVN had previously submitted its proposal in late March, in which it asked relevant authorities to consider restricting or suspending the import of petroleum products that could be produced domestically for the duration of the Covid-19 epidemic. The proposal noted that inventories at the Dung Quat and Nghi Son refineries had reached 90 percent.

The oil giant had also requested that products processed from crude oil be exempted from value-added taxes when being exported so that businesses could push more of their goods through the export channel.

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