Heat on Viet­nam car bar­ri­ers rises

The Myanmar Times - - International / Business -

THE com­merce and in­dus­try min­istries are es­ca­lat­ing de­mands that the Vietnamese govern­ment elim­i­nate non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers on cars im­ported from Thai­land, as Thai car ship­ments to Viet­nam have stalled for over six months.

Thai­land is pres­sur­ing Viet­nam to elim­i­nate its non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers on com­pletely built-up (CBU) cars ex­ported from Thai­land.

Thai ex­porters sus­pended their car ship­ments af­ter Viet­nam tight­ened in­spec­tions for all CBUs at sea­ports ear­lier this year. CBU cars are re­quired to un­dergo tests in a Vietnamese lab­o­ra­tory to en­sure they meet en­vi­ron­men­tal and emis­sions stan­dards.

But the lab­o­ra­tory fa­cil­ity is not large enough to process a large vol­ume of cars, which sug­gests the mea­sure is aimed at block­ing car im­ports.

Im­port du­ties for Thai-made prod­ucts were elim­i­nated un­der the Asean Free Trade Area.

Som­chai Harn­hi­ran, the deputy in­dus­try min­is­ter, said the two min­istries are work­ing to pre­pare in­for­ma­tion as they mon­i­tor Viet­nam’s non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers, ef­fec­tive from this year.

“Since Viet­nam used the non-tar­iff bar­rier pol­icy, Thai­land’s au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try lost roughly 80pc of car ex­ports to that coun­try,” he said.

“Both gov­ern­ments will be in talks soon and we are hop­ing for a good sign from the two coun­tries.”

All 10 Asean coun­tries have agreed on a free-trade agree­ment with no such bar­ri­ers.

Re­cently, the min­istry also held a meet­ing with car mak­ers and auto parts mak­ers to solve the prob­lem.

“The govern­ment has pre­pared coun­ter­mea­sures for some Vietnamese prod­ucts ex­ported to Thai­land, but it can­not dis­close more de­tails be­cause that will be plan B if the bi­lat­eral ne­go­ti­a­tion fails,” said Mr Som­chai.

He said car mak­ers in Thai­land re­ported that re­lated ex­ports to Viet­nam stood at 4,590 units for the first quar­ter, with the an­nual tar­get set at 65,000 units.

“Of the to­tal vol­ume, about 2,000 units were from Honda, but many car mak­ers said they will stop ef­forts to ex­port to Viet­nam,” said Mr Som­chai.

Au­ra­mon Supthaweet­hum, di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the Trade Ne­go­ti­a­tion Depart­ment, said Thai­land will push for­ward ne­go­ti­a­tions with Viet­nam at ev­ery meet­ing ses­sion, adding that lab­o­ra­to­ries must com­ply with mu­tual recog­ni­tion ar­range­ments (MRAs) for the in­spec­tions.

Viet­nam only has one au­to­mo­tive test­ing agency, re­quir­ing roughly 30 days for ve­hi­cles to clear.

Thai­land, by con­trast, has many agen­cies to test im­ported CBU cars un­der the Thai­land Au­to­mo­tive In­dus­try and Thai In­dus­trial Stan­dards In­sti­tute.

“Once Viet­nam agrees on the MRAs, the next step will be to test the cars our­selves be­fore mak­ing ship­ments there,” Mrs Au­ra­mon said af­ter meet­ing with au­to­mo­tive-re­lated agen­cies.

“We aim to cut the cus­tom clear­ance pro­ce­dure at Vietnamese ports to fa­cil­i­tate Thai ex­ports and re­duce du­pli­cate in­spec­tions.”

She said Thai­land will pro­pose MRA pro­ce­dures at the Joint Trade Com­mit­tee meet­ing sched­uled for Au­gust.

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