AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies

Domestic implementation of the WTO obligations in Vietnam: localising global customs rules

by Ngoc Minh Le

Institution: Monash University
Department: Department of Business law and Taxation
Year: 2015
Keywords: Comparative law; Customs law; Political economy and social demand; Power and cognitive constraints; Procedural rule of law; Public administration reform of Vietnam; State economic management mentality; Socialist-oriented market economy of Vietnam; Judicial review of customs decisions; WTO transparency and free trade; WTO-WCO customs obligations; Transfer of legal knowledge; Customs best practices; Trade facilitation and customs control; Vietnam social discourses about WTO principles; Technical assistance of international donors; Customs administration of Vietnam; International economic integration; Legal system of Vietnam; Foreign laws and legal transferability; Law reform programs of Vietnam; National interpretation of WTO agreements; Party and state systems of Vietnam
Record ID: 1047223
Full text PDF: http://arrow.monash.edu.au/hdl/1959.1/1144492


The Socialist Republic of Vietnam committed to bring its laws, regulations and administrative procedures into conformity with the WTO rules-based trading agreements and to honour its obligations with respect to development of the rule of law. This study examines the areas of friction that Vietnam is likely to encounter as it implements the WTO legal regime. It hypothesised that a smooth transfer and adaptation of the Western-based customs regime requires Vietnamese recipients to understand and support principles of transparency and liberalisation of the WTO that differ from socialist principles underlying the Vietnameselegal system. Having adopted a social construction view, this study of national interpretation assumed that state actors of Vietnam were not passive receivers of the WTO customs rules but rather constructed the meaning given to the global rules. Discourse analysis was proved as the suitable methodology since Party and State’s understandings about the WTO customs regime were largely generated through communicative processes.The three streams of discourse modes, interpretive communities and discursive strategies were tested to assess the WTO-related regulatory conversations within and amongst groups of domestic implementers at different state levels: the Party and State’s high policy making, customs lawmaking central level, and the law implementation local level. The principal conclusion reached was that the transfer of WTO principal rules in Vietnam is difficult because political leaders, lawmakers and government officials at different state levels did not fully understand and interpret the WTO basic objectives. The domestic reforms toward the Western rule of law revealed the biggest complication of the prevailing socialist constraints of party leadership and power concentration.These political contradictions prevent the Party and State leaders to interpret the WTO principles of economic law and the liberalisation objectives that presented a slow shift from the Soviet-originated thinking of state economic management to the Western thinking of free market access. Another conclusion was that the Party and State’s interpretations of the WTO objectives shaped the Customs’ cognitive assumptions and allowed customs lawmakers and regulators to reinterpret and reformulate the WTO customs rules. The repetitive customs law making discourse did not result in a smooth transfer of the WTO-WCO customs rules because of the incompatible high political level thinking and the Customs’ reinterpretations and reformulation. The results also revealed that power structures and cognitive assumptions in Customs shaped the implementation of the imported customs regimes, especially when the WTO valuations rules were reinterpreted by customs regulators for the daily application. Though customs administrators and judges wanted to promote an effective and efficient customs administration to approach the WTO objectives, there still existed discrepancies in the administrative and judiciary interpretations of the WTO legality…