Seminar to strengthen waterway transport connection of Vietnam - Cambodia
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Implementing the directive of Minister of Transport, dated May 07th 2015, Mr. Hoang Hong Giang – Director General of Vietnam Inland Waterways Administration attended the seminar with the aim of strengthening waterborne transport connection of Vietnam - Cambodia at Phnom Penh, chaired by H.E Mr. Tram Iv Tek, Minister of Ministry of Public Works and Transport. In the seminar, there were Japanese delegations led by H.E Mr. Yuji Kumamaru, Ambassador, Head of delegation; Representative of International Mekong River Commission, the World Bank in Cambodia; along with more than 40 enterprises operating waterway transport on Mekong River.

At the seminar, parties agreed that Vietnam - Cambodia waterway via Thuong Phuoc / Vinh Xuong border gate is both inland waterway and transit route for transit of goods from the Southern port area (Saigon and Thi Vai - Cai Mep) of Vietnam to Cambodia. Signing of Waterway trasport Agreement between Vietnamese Government and Royal Government of Cambodia has opened prospects to develop waterway transport between two countries and transit transport. Currently, the two sides have close cooperation with competent authorities to notify and monitor activities of border crossing of means of transport and promptly solve problems arising.

At the seminar, the enterprises also reflected some unsettled problems occurring in the Agreement promotion, as follows:

1 Procedure of transit and transport across borders:                                                                                

Many enterprises reflect procedures to be performed 4 times at the port of departure, border gate of exit country, entry country and port of destination; and due to unimplemented One-Stop customs system, enterprises must submit 12 dossiers to the authorities at different locations. In other words, it is not compliance with the Agreement, wasting a lot of time and money for enterprises.

As being discussed and agreed by the parties, ships participating in transit transport or transport across borders must perform full implementation of procedures relating to immigration, customs, health and quarantine of animals and plants as defined in Paragraph 1 and 2, Article 17 of the Agreement. Accordingly, ships and inland facilities must carry out procedures once at ports of departure and ports of destination. In case the ports do not arrange functional bodies, the procedures will be carried out at the border gate.

2 Working hour at the borders

At present, working hour at  Kaom Samnor border gate of Cambodia starts from 7: 00-11: 30 and 14: 00-17: 30 (lunch break of 2,5h, night – time of 13,5h); at Vinh Xuong border gate of Vietnam from 7: 30-11: 30 and 13: 00-17: 00 ( lunch break of 1.5h and night – time of 14,5h).

To facilitate entry and exit, Ministry of Finance of Vietnam issued Circular No. 38/2015 / TT-BTC dated 25 March 2015 on Customs procedures and Import, Export Tax, whereby customs authorities will carry out customs procedures for passengers and cargo on rest days, holidays and out of working hours or on the basis of prior notification of the enterprises through data processing systems of electronic customs or in writing. The parties desire the 24/24 procedure performance at the gate will soon be implemented.

3 Transit of old goods through Cai Mep - Thi Vai port:

Cambodian government allows import of old goods; however, if importing goods through port system of Vietnam (Saigon, Thi Vai, Cai Mep), Cambodian enterprises must submit dossiers to Vietnam Ministry of Trade and Industry in Hanoi for permission, which take longer time and procedures. Cambodian government recommended Vietnamese government to support licensing procedures of transit of old goods from third countries to Cambodia.

4 Groups of waterway transport facilitation:

The parties highly appreciated the role of Groups of waterway transport facilitation. According to Cambodian Ministry of Transport, Cambodia has established Group of waterway transport facilitation on March 19th  015. This is a breakthrough since the Agreement was signed in 2009. This group is responsible for supporting waterway transport activities, harmonizing standards and regulations between the two countries and ensuring freedom of waterway transport, handling problems and promoting bilateral cooperation.  Cambodia pledged to early meet Groups of waterway transport facilitation in the second time.

In conclusion, Deputy Minister of Transport of Cambodia assessed the transport route from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh to be a strategic one.  Foreign investors making investment in Phnom Penh port, especially Japanese are eager to export goods via this route through Vietnam's seaports; therefore, it is really necessary to facilitate waterway transport activities.