Australian Border Force Goods Compliance Update

27 October 2017

This update was first published by CBFCA Australia.

On 12 October 2017, the Australian Border Force (ABF) released the September 2017 edition of the ABF Goods Compliance Update (Update).

Ever since the publication of the Update was reinstated by the ABF it has become a vital tool in their engagement and communication strategy, bringing useful information of direct relevance to all of those in the supply chain who deal with them.

The Update is the first edition since Erin Dale, as the former Commander of Customs Compliance at the ABF, has been seconded to a role in the DHA Implementation Task Force. The Update is now under the control of Stephen Hledik who is the Acting Commander of Customs Compliance at the ABF. Stephen chairs the Compliance Advisory Group of the National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF) attended by the Customs Brokers & Forwarders Council of Australia (CBFCA) and other industry associations, as well as those who work with the CBFCA. This has led to some changes to the format and content of the Update which includes more colour, more photos and graphs showing the movement in recorded activities over time, which is especially important is demonstrating the trends in compliance for various obligations.

The whole Update is well worth a close read and should be sent to those with whom you deal in the supply chain including overseas agents, clients, employees, contractors and those who provide services to you. Each of those parties face liability to the ABF and have an impact on your liability and that of your business.

To the extent that the information in the Update could be considered as ‘highlights’, the following are worth special consideration:

  • The Update includes some information on the recent Industry Summit including the new Trade Modernisation agenda.
  • There is an announcement regarding completion of Mutual Recognition Arrangements with Korea, Canada and Hong Kong which will allow those in the Australian Trusted Trader Program to secure some benefits in those countries, although details have not been provided.
  • There is a cautionary tale where a Licenced Custom Broker (LCB) did not tell a client of tarrif advice (TA) which included an adverse outcome requiring changes to past FIDs and payment of duty and GST. The importer was the subject of an audit and advised of the TA which led to the LCB being responsible for a penalty under section 243T and was referred to the National Customs Broker Licensing Advisory Committee.
  • Summary information is provided on lodging drawback claims, Free Trade Agreement (FTA) consignment rules and seizures of tobacco.
  • There is extensive information on the presence of deficient information in cargo reports and the trend over time.

However, probably the most important information is the results of the compliance programs for the 2016/17 year including details of Infringement Notices (IN) issued for various offences (and value). The highest by number and value was for offences under section 33 (6) where 191 notices lead to penalties of $1,519,650 and section 243T where 63 notices lead to penalties of $1,147,898.56. Most duty was recovered from post-transaction verification slightly ahead of the amount paid under voluntary disclosure. This suggests that the strict liability regime complemented by voluntary disclosure has been successful in its aims. There was an error rate of 28.4% in import reporting over the 2016/17 financial year and 39.9% in export reporting although there is also a graph showing a reduction in the percentage of errors in export reporting.

Following requests from industry we would expect to receive details on all these items for the 2017/18 year up to the date of the next Update. We would also be likely to receive a further level of information on INs so that the numbers relating to errors in the dumping and countervailing fields and the errors in claiming FTAs to be provided along with the quantum of duties underpaid.

I will be addressing the Update in my CBFCA member forums in November, but also encourage you to review the Update carefully so that you are aware of the focus of the ABF and likely areas of compliance action.

Disclaimer: This publication contains comments of a general nature only and is provided as an information service. It is not intended to be relied upon as, nor is it a substitute for specific professional advice. No responsibility can be accepted by Rigby Cooke Lawyers or the authors for loss occasioned to any person doing anything as a result of any material in this publication.

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