Vietnam keeps tough auto import rules despite criticism

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HANOI — Vietnam plans to continue strict enforcement of automobile import rules, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung says, amid resistance to the year-old policy from overseas carmakers.

The rules, which took effect in January 2018 as auto tariffs within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations were cut to zero, require complicated procedures for auto imports — such as quality certification from the country of origin and inspections for each lot of imports. Though Dung acknowledged at a recent meeting that the rules initially caused confusion, he said many of the issues have been resolved, according to local reports. 

The government has decided to continue its import controls, known as Decree 116, following a review of their terms and impact.

The deputy prime minister also said he planned to remove obstacles for auto production in Vietnam, hinting at incentives for companies that set up plants in the country. Hanoi wants its auto industry to source 35% to 40% of components domestically by 2020, up from about 10% now.

New-car sales nationwide grew 5.8% to about 290,000 units in 2018, the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers’ Association says. But the volume for imported cars fell 6.2% to about 73,000, after many automakers halted shipments to the country in the first half of the year to deal with the new restrictions.

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