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Import rules on phones, cosmetics relaxed

The Ministry of Industry and Trade yesterday abolished a regulation that restricted traders to importing mobile phones, wines and spirits and cosmetics through three specific routes.
The decision, with effect immediately, permits traders to import through all ports and by road, rail and air. The restrictions were lifted in a bid to help struggling businesses.
“This is good news for mobile phone traders like us,” said a senior representative from Tran Anh, a mobile phone importer in Ha Noi, “and it will also help reduce phone prices and give a wider range of models”.
In May 2011, the Customs Department issued a notice that required the imports to enter Viet Nam through customs clearance facilities at international seaports in HCM City, Hai Phong and Da Nang.
It also required additional customs documentation to be provided and an obligation to have these documents approved by the consulate of Viet Nam in the exporting country.
The restrictions prompted many complaints from Viet Nam’s mobile phone networks and handset retailers as it had the potential to drive up costs and put a damper on handset sales.
They said banning imports by road, rail, air and other seaports would cause disruption in export patterns and trade losses.
Furthermore, obtaining additional documentation and having it consulate-approved caused an additional burden, cost and delay.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade said Viet Nam imported US$4.47 billion worth of cell phones last year, a 70 per cent increase year-on-year.
New mobile subscribers in Viet Nam have gone from 19 million in 2006 to 98 million in 2009 and more than 123 million last year. — VNS