Vietnam: Global Retail at risk of losing shipment to Africa

Global Retail may lose two containers of goods if the partner follows customs procedures and colludes with local shipping lines and customs agency to take out goods without original documents.

Global Retail JSC exported two containers of Buffalo Jungle energy drinks to Benin. When the goods arrived at Cotonou Port of Benin, the buyer did not receive the goods and did not pay the remaining money.

To settle the problem, Global Retail sold the consignment of goods at a loss to another partner. However, when the new partner closed the deal, the old partner turned up, claimed the goods and made customs declarations in Benin.

However, to date, the old buyer hadms not received the shipment because the bill of lading is in the hands of Global Retail.

This is a form of intentional commercial dispute if the parties (Buyer and Seller) do not comply with the law on international business and maritime law.

In this case, the Vietnamese exporter may lose the goods if the buyer arbitrarily carries out customs procedures and colludes with shipping lines and local customs to take out the goods without original documents required.

The two containers of energy drinks are still at Cotonou Port, and Global Retail JSC has to pay $500 in storage fee.

A representative of Global Retail said the business once heard information that many Vietnamese enterprises exporting products to Africa were scammed and their money and assets appropriated. The business was also informed about the problems of the customs declaration system under the local difficult-to-understand laws.

The executive said Global Retail faced the same problem several times.

“Our story could be a lesson for other enterprises. We call on Vietnam’s overseas agencies and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) and the International Arbitration Center to help protect Vietnamese enterprises,” he said.

In fact, Vietnam doesn’t have a trade representative in most African countries. One office there is in charge of 2-3 or even five markets, so it’s impossible to work directly with local trade agencies. This puts Vietnam’s enterprises at a disadvantage. Businesses have to act alone in disputes with local partners in markets where Vietnam has no trade representatives.

In the case of Global Retail, Vietnam’s trade representative in Maroc, in charge of the Benin market as well, sent a diplomatic note to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Benin (CCIB). However, the problem has not been settled.

Global Retail has asked VCCI to come forward and protect Vietnamese enterprises overseas. VCCI would, together with the Vietnamese trade representative in Benin, certify invoices, packing lists and B/L, and cooperate with CCIB to settle the case. 

Bao An