Illegal exports of coal have yet to be strictly dealt with
The Central Steering Committee for Anti-Smuggling, Counterfeit Goods and Trade Fraud reported that over 124,000 tonnes of ores were illegally exported abroad in 2011, a rise of 30,000 tonnes or 25% compared to the figure of 2010.
Most of cases involved in illegal smuggling of petroleum are conducted via the country's south-western border with Cambodia. Last year, nearly 400,000 litres of petroleum were illicitly trafficked. Even though the figure indicated a slight fall in volume, the committee still recorded a sharp rise in the number of cases between February and March 2011 when the domestic petroleum prices were much lower.
The majority of cases involving illicit coal exploitation and trafficking were reported in the northern provinces of Quang Ninh, Hai Duong, and Nam Dinh as well as Haiphong City, which possess favourable waterways that foster such illegal operations.
Smugglers often use river or seagoing vessels to transport coal to China in order to avoid being intercepted by local authorities.
The committee recently reported an increasing number of cases where titanium found mainly in the central coastal area was smuggled to foreign abroad.
Between 2006 and 2011, approximately one tonne of raw titanium was illegally exported abroad, mainly to the neighbouring country of China. Vietnamese firms which were not authorised to export titanium tried to buy the ore in central provinces, transporting it to northern localities including Haiphong City and Quang Ninh Province for illegal export to China.
The committee attributed the situation to the uncontrollable licensing of mining operations as well as ore processing and exportation in conjunction with lax management by local authorities.
China's rising demand for minerals has encouraged Chinese traders to offer high payments to Vietnamese individuals and enterprises to seek ways to smuggle minerals, adding to the situation.
A deputy director of the committee proposed that the Government request Quang Ninh provincial authorities to co-ordinate with local task forces to deal with coal and mineral smuggling via vessels in the north.
The Ministry of Trade and Investment was told to join hands with related ministries and agencies to scrutinise the licensing of mining operations as well as ore processing and exports.
Last year, Vietnamese authorities nationwide detected over 33,600 cases of smuggling worth VND287 billion (USD13.7 million), along with 6,100 cases involving violations of intellectual property rights and the trading and production of counterfeit goods valued at VND19 billion (USD910,083 million). They also dealt with 35,100 trade frauds and numerous food hygiene and safety standard violations involving goods equivalent to VND21 billion (USD1 million).