China border gate trade set for return to normal

By Anh Minh   April 17, 2020 | 08:30 pm PT
China border gate trade set for return to normal
Fruit containers at Tan Thanh Border Gate in Lang Son Province. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
Authorities have agreed to restore normal customs clearance time at the Tan Thanh Border Gate in Vietnam's Lang Son Province after nearly two weeks.

The agreement was reached following a call Friday between Vietnam's Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh and China's head of the General Administration of Customs Ni Yuefeng and Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan.

The senior leaders agreed that the time for processing customs clearance procedures at Tan Thanh Border Gate would be restored to 8-11 a.m. and 12-4 p.m., and the border gate would also be open for customs clearance on weekends.

In a previous decision issued April 5, authorities in China's Pingxiang City, Guangxi Province had reduced the time for customs clearance at the border gate to just five hours a day (8-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m.) and stopped processing customs clearance on weekends as part of Covid-19 prevention measures.

The decision caused the number of goods stuck at the northern province's border gates, particularly Tan Thanh, to skyrocket. By the end of Thursday, the number of containers piled up at Lang Son's border gates had reached about 2,000, most of them carrying fruits and other agriculture produce.

Despite customs clearance activities at Tan Thanh Border Gate returning to normal, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has recommended that businesses avoid taking goods to the border for export through cross-border trade between local residents and quickly switch to exporting through official channels instead.

To continue promoting the export of agricultural produce, Anh has requested that China simplify inspection procedures for Vietnamese agricultural produce, redirect goods to other border gates and increase the import of agricultural produce through the Pingxiang-Dong Dang railway.

He has also asked China to expand the list of fruits and agriculture produce eligible for imports through the Dong Dang-Pingxiang railway, and to open the market for a number of Vietnamese agricultural produce and products including grass jelly, bird's nest, sweet potato and durian to be imported through official channels.

The trade minister has also requested that China extend the list of Vietnam's fishmeal exporters and restore exporter status to some Vietnamese businesses in the seafood and rice sectors.

First quarter fruit exports to China, the largest buyer of Vietnamese agriculture produce, fell 29.4 percent year-on-year to $300 million as the Covid-19 pandemic halted normal trade, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

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