There has been a lot of information to digest recently regarding developments in Customs and Trade Compliance in Australia.
The minutes from the first quarterly Compliance Advisory Group meeting (CAG) and Goods Compliance Updates (GCU) for 2017 were recently published, with some important issues for industry to be aware of.
Australian Border Force (ABF) have continued to highlight their increased operational focus on imports of asbestos or goods containing asbestos, which is strictly prohibited. In FY2016/17 to date, they have conducted 438 tests based on profile and alert matches on shipments from China and 21 other countries, returning 17 positive detections.
Importers are advised to understand their obligations to ensure their goods do not contain asbestos, as unauthorised shipments of goods found to contain it will be seized, destroyed, and may also result in penalties or prosecution.
Approach to Trade Compliance
ABF has published their Approach to Trade and Goods Compliance, which replaces the previous Australian Customs Service’s regulatory philosophy. The availability of assisted self-regulation for parties seeking to comply with their obligations, over direct regulation for those considered to lack or have limited or poor internal compliance controls or resist their obligations is again re-stated.
Figures provided in the GCU show that fines for making false or misleading statements, whether or not resulting in a loss of duty, as well as revenue understatements detected under their General Monitoring Programme are increasing significantly.
Areas of Focus for 2017
Underpayment of duty through misclassification, misuse of trade concessions, and undervaluation:
- Misclassification is a key focus across a range of commodities. The CAG meeting minutes show that ABF will not be explicitly communicating or providing additional guidance materials with respect to target areas unless it considers it appropriate where specific trends in non-compliance are identified. This puts the onus squarely back on industry to take precautionary steps such as Tariff or Origin Advance Rulings, where the correctness of an interpretation of classification, applicable concessional instrument or origin preference eligibility are unconfirmed.
- Undervaluation continues to be a primary target of the approach to trade and goods compliance, with valuation errors continuing to make up half of the top 10 import declaration errors detected.
- Voluntary Disclosures were highlighted in the CAG meeting minutes as a focus area for increased dialogue between industry members and ABF in 2017. Industry representatives continue to strive to promote understanding and awareness in the industry on the declaration of errors or omissions, and leverage ABF’s increasingly conciliatory approach towards mutually beneficial outcomes.
- ABF has stated in their new approach that they will consider the level of intent to comply with Customs-related laws, including plans to implement corrective actions, in deciding the most appropriate response to non-compliance.
Other areas of focus include evasion of dumping and countervailing duty measures, and incorrect claims for concession under Treatment Code 744 administered under the Enhanced Project By-law Scheme, or 734 – aircraft parts, materials, and test equipment.
Importers and exporters are encouraged to reach out to their industry representatives and customs and trade compliance partners to understand their obligations, and the available steps and measures they can take to ensure their cross-border activities are being conducted in a compliant manner.
At Tradewin, we handle the details. If you would like to know more about how you can take control of your customs and trade compliance processes to protect your business, please contact us.