Authorities enhance e-commerce supervision

Relevant ministries and agencies will tighten management and supervision of e-commerce to discover violations and prevent tax losses in 2023.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT)’s E-commerce and Digital Economy Agency, it will coordinate with other relevant units under the Ministry of Information and Communications, and the Ministry of Finance to take measures in connecting and sharing data to strengthen the management of business activities on social networks in particular and in cyberspace in general.

The inspection will be also applied to see the responsibilities of e-commerce exchanges and social networks in screening, preventing and blocking accounts that do not provide adequate information and have signs of trading violated and counterfeit goods.

The agency will continue to work closely with the MoIT’s Market Management Agency, the Ministry of Public Security’s Department of Cybersecurity and High-Tech Crime Prevention, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Information and Communications to inspect and supervise the businesses’ compliance with the law on e-commerce according to the plans approved by the Minister of Industry and Trade.

It will also review existing policies to take practical adjustments with an aim to better manage e-commerce business activities.

The agency will upgrade infrastructure systems and supporting services for e-commerce besides developing and applying new technologies in e-commerce, and supporting the digital transformation of enterprises.

In addition, it will promote training to improve the inspection and handling of violations in e-commerce. Events on anti-counterfeiting and enhancing the responsibility of e-commerce website owners in protecting consumers' interests will be also organised.

In 2022, Vietnam's e-commerce sector continually developed to become an important distribution channel. During the economic recovery period after the pandemic, e-commerce has been one of the pioneering areas of the digital economy.

According to a survey of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, retail e-commerce revenue in Vietnam last year surged by 20% compared to 2021, reaching 16.4 billion USD, accounting for 7.5% of the country’s total retail sales of goods and services.

With the goals of creating trust for consumers in online shopping, protecting healthy traders and promoting e-commerce development, the department reviewed and requested e-commerce companies to remove or lock 1,663 stalls with 6,437 violated and counterfeit goods, and block five infringing websites.

However, to both prevent tax loss and ensure the legitimate interests of business individuals, experts said there should be regulations on the responsibility of information security of relevant organisations and individuals. Specifically, the responsibility for the security of websites and the responsibility to provide information to the tax authorities, helping to make tax management more effective.

According to Associate Professor Le Xuan Truong, Director of the Academy of Finance’s Faculty of Taxation and Customs under the Ministry of Finance, the Government should add a regulation that forces e-commerce trading floors to be responsible for withholding and paying taxes on behalf of individuals as well as perform payment intermediary services and participate in operating and controlling delivery activities and receiving money from buyers.

He added that more than 40 countries have so far regulated the responsibility of e-commerce exchanges in deducting taxes of individuals if the floor provides payment services, or directly participates in the delivery and receipt of goods of buyers and sellers.

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