This article was first published in July 2021 by The Daily Cargo News.
Customs & Trade law specialist Andrew Hudson offers some thoughts on the compliance focus of some of Australia’s border agencies.
Customs & Trade law specialist Andrew Hudson offers some thoughts on the compliance focus of some of Australia’s border agencies.
Despite the optimism surfacing in some quarters that the world and its economy are recovering from the COVID-19 Pandemic, recovery is far from complete and the consequences will continue to affect the world for many years. This article provides some insight into how Australia’s trade has coped and the shape of its recovery – with a little help from its friends.
Following a flurry of negotiations and carefully worded press releases, Australia and the United Kingdom (UK) have finally confirmed the outline of their agreement on a Free Trade Agreement (FTAs) between the two nations.
Customs & Trade law expert Andrew Hudson takes a close look at the latest Federal budget, with a focus on how it will affect industry.
Against the background of concerns on the Federal Government’s trade facilitation agenda, the last two Federal budgets have allocated funding towards work on a “Simplified Trade System” (STS) to operate across Government agencies involved in the import and export of goods.
Trade law expert Andrew Hudson argues that free-trade agreements are increasingly not just about trade, they also address societal issues, and this is a good thing.
The COVID–19 Pandemic has created many unusual outcomes. One of those was the delay of the May 2020 Australian Federal Budget until October 2020 which included a series of measures aimed at management of the economy in the face of the Pandemic and forecasting future deficits.
Rigby Cooke is pleased to announce that two of our partners, Andrew Hudson and David McLaughlin, have again been included in the Best Lawyers in Australia rankings for 2022. Best Lawyers is a highly regarded, peer reviewed publication with over 30 years of history.
The world continues to struggle with the practical consequences of congestion in the supply chain and governments are initiating reviews into supply chain vulnerabilities and how they may be addressed. However, it remains important that we do not overlook other initiatives to facilitate trade which may have been stalled by the focus on the more immediate problems of the global pandemic.
The tariff classification of goods is a crucial part of the international supply chain, as it applies to goods at the point of import and export and can affect a number of vital issues such as whether goods are allowed to be imported or exported at all, the duty payable at the point of import and whether dumping or countervailing duty is payable.
The release of the “Interim Government Response” (Response) to the independent review of the Victorian Ports System Review (Review) on 26 February 2021 comes at a time when there is ongoing attention on the state, national and international supply chains.
On 19 February 2021, the Federal Treasurer requested the Productivity Commission (Commission) undertake an independent review (Review) “into supply chain vulnerabilities and risks” to “ensure that the Australian economy is prepared for “possible supply chain disruptions”.
Even as the world struggles with the health issues from the pandemic, those relying on the supply chain are facing a variety of problems, which collectively are creating additional delays, cost and uncertainty. None of these factors will assist with economic recovery, or the distribution of vaccines and other medical products being used to deal with the pandemic. Further, the economic benefits of a reduction in tariffs through Free Trade Agreements and other trade facilitation measures are being eroded by problems and costs in the supply chain.
Back in October 2020, the federal government released its proposed budget for the 2020/2021 financial year. As usual, most of the details had been formally announced or “leaked” but it is worth paying attention to a few issues.
Just when we thought that the most complex thing affecting our trade relationship with the European Union (EU) was how Brexit was going to be effected and how the free trade agreement was going to be completed, other developments are quickly coming into play which may make the position even more complicated.
On 3 December 2020, the Government introduced a new Bill into the Federal Parliament known as the Customs Tariff Amendment (Incorporation of Proposals and Other Measures) Bill 2020 (Bill).
I was invited by the American Bar Association (ABA) to prepare a chapter on the Australian sanctions regime for inclusion in an ABA publication on comparative sanctions regimes. As I provide advice on sanctions to clients and have an interest in my capacity as a director of the Export Council of Australia, it was a pleasure to accept and spend some time trying to reduce the complex issues both in Australia and overseas.
Recent news on the international trade stage has been less than optimistic – especially for those Australian exporters who are held up by ongoing Chinese trade bans on some of our primary products and resources.
It appears to be a direct consequence of some diplomatic disagreements but, to date, falls short of a full trade war.
According to most officials, we appear to have a winner in the United States (US) election with the announcement of the success of the Biden/Harris ticket.
For many years, disputes on trade have led to actual warfare. “Send a gunboat”, was often cited as part of British foreign policy when trade was at risk. Think of the British and French Opium Wars with the Chinese Qing Dynasty which led to the opening of additional European jurisdiction over Chinese ports including Guangzhou and Shanghai and the concession over Hong Kong in favour of the British.
On Tuesday 6 October 2020, the Federal Government released its proposed budget for 2020-21, together with forward estimates of future receipts and expenses. As usual, most of the details had previously been formally announced or “leaked” previously but it is worth paying attention to a few issues. In doing so I have borrowed shamelessly from the exact words from the relevant budget text to ensure accuracy and only added additional commentary when the issue warrants that additional attention.
It seems counterintuitive but even as Australia struggles out of recession and pandemic, a number of lines have determined that the state of services through Port Botany, Sydney, require the imposition of an additional ‘congestion charge’ for a variety of reasons including the lack of overtime resulting from legally protected industrial action by stevedore employees at Port Botany.
One of the stories from the COVID–19 pandemic has been the surging numbers of goods being moved through e-commerce. The forced levels of isolation have caused consumers and corporates to resort to purchasing even more goods than ever online seeking urgent delivery.
The Australian Commonwealth Constitution (the Commonwealth) has an interesting history including its development through a series of Constitutional Conventions between the representative of state governments and other interested parties.
During the current pandemic, the focus of many has been on the manufacture of medical equipment required for the treatment of COVID-19 and their urgent movement through the international supply chain.
As an island nation, Australia has always relied heavily on its ports, their wharves and other facilities as well as the associated land–side infrastructure including rail and road access, stevedore operations and empty container parks. Much of the national and international supply chain relies on the efficient operation of the sector.
The Indonesia–Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement is a positive development for the global free trade agenda writes Customs and Trade Partner, Andrew Hudson.
On 24 June, we delivered a webinar to members of the CBFCA (now IFCBAA) which addressed, in part, the terms of the Indonesia Australia – Closer Economic Partnership Agreement (IA – CEPA) which is to commence on 5 July 2020, as well as the outcomes from the Australian Border Force (ABF) Goods Compliance Update from April 2020.
One of the fundamental roles of governments during the COVID–19 Pandemic has been to assist the movement of goods through the international and domestic supply chain as well as to support those providing services in that supply chain. While there has been an understandable focus on movement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and related equipment and medication needed to assist in treatment of those affected by the Pandemic, that focus has not excluded the adoption of measures to assist trade in other goods adversely affected by the significant reduction in air and sea cargo options.
I have previously written the effects of COVID-19 in the international supply chain as well as having presented at meetings and webinars. This included a recent webinar with the Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia, which was attended by more than 300 members.
One of the major tasks for government’s around the world are to adopt measures which may assist business to recover and thrive as they plan to move out of COVID– 9 restrictions. As much as national governments have committed to generally keep borders open, there remains the need to actively take action to ensure that commitments are met and that new initiatives are adopted to support further enhancements to the trade environment.
During the current pandemic, the focus of many has been on the manufacture of the medical equipment required for the treatment of COVID -19 and their urgent movement through the international supply chain.
Rigby Cooke is pleased to announce that two of our Partners, Andrew Hudson and David McLaughlin have been included in the Best Lawyers in Australia rankings for 2021.
At last, the UK has finally started its process to depart the European Union (EU). However, there is still some real uncertainty about what will remain at the end of the departure process.
On 1 April 2020, the Australian Federal Government announced a new financial package to support exports of seafood to overseas markets as well as to increase funding of the Export Market Development Grant scheme (EMDG). This is one of a series of financial support packages released as part of Australia’s response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Further to our update last week, the government has now moved to impose export controls on COVID-19 goods during the present ‘human biosecurity period’.
In light of the ongoing and increasing impact of COVID 19, here we summarise a few relevant issues in the international supply chain, including at our national border.
Andrew Hudson has recently co-authored a white paper with the Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia, alongside Scott Carson and Gerardo D’Angelo, with additional contributions from Adam Butler, Tim Gray and Taras Lubczyk.
I had previously published an article on 28 January 2020 with some early thoughts on the possible impacts of the coronavirus. However, as matters have progressed, I thought that it warranted an update.
Well, it finally happened. 1,317 days, two elections and a number of pieces of legislation after the UK referendum voted to leave the European Union (EU), the departure procedures commenced.
As I write these words (8 January 2020), we are swaying on the precipice of escalation of warfare between the US and Iran. We are also stunned by the ongoing bushfire disaster which is taking the lives of animals and people as well as destroying properties and countryside.
We have previously written at length on decisions of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), or State or Federal Courts on the classification of goods for customs purposes. The classification of goods is a vital process as many things follow from that classification including rates of customs duty, the need to pay dumping or countervailing duty and whether the goods are prohibited or need permits or licences.
As I write this article, news of the spread of the ‘coronavirus’ becomes worse on a regular basis. According to today’s media, nearly 60 million people in China’s largest cities are in lockdown, there are 2700 confirmed cases and 80 people have died.
Only the beginning of the end of tension?
In much the same way that Australia welcomed rain this week, the release of ‘Phase One’ of the US and China Agreement had led to some degree of relief and confidence in the commercial and financial world.
The Australia – Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (A – HKFTA) starts today, 17 January 2020. This will include preferential rates of customs duty for certain classifications of goods along with more opportunities for investment and trade in services.
While much debate surrounds the operation of our anti-dumping legislation in practice, it may be a surprise to some that we did not create the regime unilaterally. Our regime takes its origin from Article VI of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT).
I have been in the fortunate position of being involved with the Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia (CBFCA) for a number of years.
The decision of the Victorian County Court in Technology Swiss Pty Ltd and Ecology SRL v Famous Pacific Shipping Pty Ltd which was delivered on 30 September 2019 and published on 13 November 2019 has already received some attention and commentary within industry.
On occasion, life has a habit of appearing to imitate art.
Both Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ and Kafka’s ‘The Castle’ are now widely being considered as contemporary literary representations of the UK’s tortured Brexit process.
The Australian Trusted Trader Programme (ATTP) is one of the lead offerings of the Australian Border Force (ABF) and represents an example of how industry and government can work closely together to co-develop a program which has largely delivered on its intended outcomes and is actively supported by industry.
As much of Australia’s focus was taken by the Melbourne Cup carnival, the leaders of 15 of the 16 nations negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) announced the conclusion of ‘text-based’ negotiations with formal signing now expected in 2020.
I wrote an earlier article on Brexit for this publication and thought it may be a good time to review the situation and whether there was any further clarity on the position.
Now that the 46th Federal Parliament has resumed and the commencement formalities have been completed, it is a good time to review the status of our Free Trade Agreement (FTA) agenda along with other new initiatives aimed at facilitating trade.
Even with the current political pressures around global trade and the supply chain, there seems to be little prospect that there will be no reduction in goods being moved through the international supply chain.
Meet Andrew Hudson, who is one of the partners leading the strategy around our South East Business Hub in Dandenong South.
Andrew shares an interesting fact about himself and advice for those wanting to specialise in Customs and Trade.
The start of a new financial year is often used by the business community to launch new initiatives into the market. However, in this case, by media release on 1 July 2019, the Australian Border Force (ABF) as a division within the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) provided details of the establishment of a new ‘Customs Group’ within the ABF.
The term seems to have first arisen in the early 1990s with reference to an ‘open distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way’ and was developed to serve as a ‘public transaction ledger’ for the bitcoin cryptocurrency.
In the week leading to the recent Federal election, the Minister for Industry Science and Technology (Minister) released her decisions as to the imposition of interim dumping and countervailing duties on steel pallet racking and PVC covered electrical cabling
In the week leading to the Federal election, the Minister for Industry Science and Technology (Minister) released her decisions as to the imposition of interim dumping and countervailing duties on steel pallet racking and PVC covered electrical cabling.
Those in industry (let alone anyone with an interest in world news) would be painfully aware that global trade is under massive pressure at the moment. Examples of these threats are everywhere and if they come to pass, the consequences will be uniformly bad. Trade and global integration has been a driver of financial and social improvement with the World Bank estimating that more than a billion people have been lifted out of poverty over the last 25 years.
During each year we discuss various important decisions handed down by the Tribunals and Courts.
Now that the Australian Federal election has been run and won, attention will turn to the priorities of the Coalition Government once Parliament resumes, whether in relation to the introduction of new initiatives or pursuit of the agenda which had been on hold pending the election outcome.
I write this article on 12 April 2019, shortly after the announcement of the federal budget and the announcement of the date for the federal election. As expected, this period encompassed the usual claim and counter-claim between the major political parties and the usual cynicism that even after the election, the political landscape may not change significantly.
Faced with the prospect of a no deal Brexit on 12 April 2019, the EU and the UK put into place a compromise that is referred to as a ‘flextension’ because it delays Brexit until 31 October 2019, subject to a number of conditions.
Technology has contributed to improvements in trade and is seen as one means to facilitate improvements. For example, many parties are looking to Blockchain as a means to enhance both the speed and safety in the movement of goods. Most contemporary Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) include provisions to facilitate customs procedures and trade as well as chapters on assisting e-commerce. In one excellent example, the FTA Portal by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) comprises up to date information on the terms of our FTAs in a way which makes it easier for parties to understand the FTAs and take advantage of them.
The Federal Budget 2019 was formally released by the Federal Government last night (2 April 2019). However, in an election year, the Federal Government took the unusual path of confirming that the government would not be seeking to pass new legislation implementing that Budget in the remaining Parliamentary sitting days. Instead, the Budget legislation would be left only to pass if the government is re-elected in the next Federal Election which is likely to take place in May 2019.
As many readers would be aware, when the New Zealand Customs Act 2018 (Act) commenced on 10 October 2018, not all of its provisions come into force on the same day.
I had been working with Custom Brokers & Freight Forwarders Federation of New Zealand (CBAFF) and other members of the Stakeholders Reference Group (Group) established by New Zealand Customs (Customs) in reviewing the proposed terms of the Act including changes to powers to Customs and the enforcement regime in the Act.
The term “Brexit” has well and truly entered into regular use and represents one of the top topics for news and current affairs at the moment. The world is transfixed by developments in the UK including close attention to the (non) passage of legislation to implement the Exit Agreement brokered by the UK Government with the EU and the associated pressure on the UK Conservative Government. As the day of departure from the EU approaches (29 March 2019), the absence of a clear exit process gives rise to more concerns on how the world will cope if no deal (or a bad deal) is struck.
Australia depends heavily on sea cargo and the efficient movement of goods through the supply chain both for exports and imports. The benefits of the proliferation of free trade agreements (FTAs) and other initiatives aimed at facilitating trade and reducing barriers and costs, can be compromised when access to the infrastructure is limited, delayed or made more expensive, especially where there is little recourse against those practices.
When most goods enter the country, the completion of customs formalities usually includes the payment of customs and excise duty. However in a number of cases, the duties are not paid on import and the goods are moved under “customs control” to “licensed premises” which are secured facilities, whether bonds or warehouses where goods are held pending payment of the duties and release into “home consumption” for wider use, often for retail sale.
For a variety of reasons Australians have wholeheartedly embraced the various means of electronic communication and social media platforms.
The Australian Productivity Commission (PC) website describes its main role as:
“Providing independent research and advice to government on economic, social and environmental issues affecting the welfare of Australians”
The Australian border is a busy place, not just in terms of the movement of goods and people and not just in terms of the many free trade agreements (FTAs) and other trade developments.
While there has recently been significant commentary on Chain of Responsibility under the Heavy Vehicle National Law and transport of goods by road the most common manner of importing and exporting goods to and from Australia is by sea.
It really should come as no surprise that Australia and New Zealand have a shared experience and agenda when it comes to customs and trade matters. After all, both countries started out as far-flung outposts of the British Empire, both started with a similar legal framework and both have some similar trade interests and challenges, as well as similar national security interests.
I have been working with the Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia (CBFCA) to develop guidance material and host legal forums on the introduction of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11), a free trade agreement that comes into play from 30 December 2018.
Good news for all – six countries have ratified the commencement of TPP 11, which is the magic number to allow the agreement to commence (for those countries which have ratified the Agreement)
While most of the Australian population (and its media) are fixated on the Royal visit or the AFL player trade, those in the industry have had a similar level of interest in the movement towards Australian domestic ratification of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP-11) (aka the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and its possible commencement date.
Readers will be aware from our previous articles (available here, here and here) that the new Chain of Responsibility (CoR) provisions under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) will come into force on 1 October 2018.
Notwithstanding the issues associated with changes in the Australian Federal Government (including a new prime minister and new ministers for both Foreign Affairs and Trade), the process of approval of new Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and parliamentary reviews of FTAs before enabling legislation is introduced to Parliament has continued.
Infringement Notices (INs) were once a relatively minor nuisance in industry, largely associated with speeding or parking fines. However, since the introduction of the Infringement Notice Scheme (INS) to the Customs Act 1901 (Customs Act), INs have taken on much greater significance. That significance may escalate again following a recent media release by the Australian Border Force and the release by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources of its notice of intention to implement its broadly-based INS under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (Biosecurity Act).
There have long been allegations that importers and their service providers here and overseas have been engaged (knowingly or innocently) in “circumventing” existing measures otherwise payable on imported goods.
Some readers will recall the final scenes of the original Jaws movie when the captain of the shark hunting vessel (Robert Shaw) finally sees the size of the monster shark and loudly announces “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” (and is then eaten by the shark).
This article was updated on 29 August 2018 and provides an update to our previous coverage on this matter.
Slavery is thought of as something from a past era. However, legislators across the world have passed laws this decade to combat modern slavery, for example, in 2010 California passed the Transparency in Supply Chains Act. In 2015, the UK followed with the Modern Slavery Act.
The idea of facilitating secure and compliant trade underpins many international agreements such as the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and WCO Safe Framework of Standards (SAFE) and is reflected in many “Authorised Economic Operator” programmes such as our own Australian Trusted Trader Programme (ATTP).
Many readers would be aware of the ongoing debate on what constitutes Hollow Structural Sections (HSS) steel or iron which is subject to dumping or countervailing duties. That has included debate on whether the alleged HSS is, in fact, another type of product (scaffolding for example) or whether the HSS is actually only part of a larger structure and should be classified on that basis.
Australia passes espionage, foreign interference, foreign influence and critical infrastructure security laws.
Readers would be aware that as and from 1 July 2017, all Australian air cargo exports to the United States were required to undergo new “piece level” screening to accommodate the requirements of the US Transportation Security Administration.
The Australian Federal Budget for the 2018/2019 year was announced in Parliament on 8 May 2018. Individual summaries for portfolios can be found at the relevant websites for the portfolio agencies.
Those operating premises licensed for the handling and retention of goods ‘under customs control’ face a number of significant challenges:
From 1 July 2018 food businesses must comply with labelling requirements set out by the Australian Government which aim to provide consumers with greater transparency on the origin of their food.
The renowned journalist Alistair Cooke famously wrote and broadcast ‘Letter from America’ from the US for a period of 58 years. It was a concise and learned spoken piece, around 15 minutes in length in which Mr Cooke delivered observations on developments in the US over the preceding week to a BBC audience in a manner intended to educate the listener and remove some of the confusion usually associated with the US.
This article was originally published by Daily Cargo News.
There has been significant commentary on the proposal for the introduction of a processing charge on certain low-value import transactions (LVT) which are transacted through a Self-Assessed Clearance Declaration (SAC).