Australia: Five hot trade topics in two minutes in Australian customs and investment

Last Updated: 6 November 2014
Article by Russell Wiese, Lynne Grant and Fran Smyth

It has been a long time since customs issues featured so prominently in the news. With the G20 meeting around the corner and suggestions that the Australia - China Free Trade Agreement negotiations will be concluded around the same time, customs and global trade is likely to remain a hot topic. To help you stay on top of the latest developments, below is a summary of five topical issues.


The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) has released its annual report which contains some very interesting statistics:

  • More than 90% of revenue targeted audits resulted in a revenue adjustment of greater than $1,000
  • A significant control breach was identified in 71% of targeted import/export declaration lines assessed post-transaction
  • Only 21% of tariff, valuation and origin advices were completed within the client service standard. This was mainly due to an increase in applications for tariff advices - the average time for which is now 42 days.

If increased penalties and potential liability for brokers is not incentive enough, the requirement to be compliant in order to take advantage of the proposed Trusted Trader Scheme should motivate importers and exporters to increase customs compliance levels.


The Australian legislation implementing the Korea Australia FTA has been passed. The legislation has a start date of 1 December 2014. However, this can only occur if Korea passes its enabling legislation. The Korean legislation is before their parliament, but is one of 7,000 bills caught up in a backlog. Before that backlog can be cleared there is the Korean budget to be dealt with.

Against this backdrop, commencement of the FTA in 2014 seems unlikely. Should the FTA fail to commence, it would result in the loss of the double tariff reduction much desired by Australian agriculture exporters.

Please see our Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement update on steps to take to prepare for the FTA.


While there is a lot of enthusiasm about a possible China FTA, there should also be excitement about the fact that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations are close to concluding. The TPP involves 12 nations including the US, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Australia and covers 40% of the world's GDP.

While it was hoped that negotiations would be concluded by the end of 2013, negotiations in Australia this week put the finish line firmly in sight. Stumbling blocks seem to be agriculture and automotive negotiations between the US and Japan.

Given we in Australia have, or will have, individual FTAs with most TPP members, the main benefits of the TPP will be non-tariff issues such as trade in services, international investment and consistency of standards.

While negotiations have progressed, parties stress that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed".


The Anti-Dumping Review Panel (ADRP) has upheld findings by the Anti-Dumping Commission (ADC) that dumping duties be imposed on wind towers from Korea and China and prepared or preserved tomatoes from Italy. In both cases there were significant additional factors that could have caused injury to the Australian industry, such as the high AU dollar and cheap non-dumped imports.

The approach by both the ADC and the ADRP demonstrates the difficulty exporter/importers face to prove that dumping (regardless of the margin or other contributing factors) did not cause material injury to the Australian industry. Exporters must put significant effort into the exporter questionnaire and, if possible, prove that dumping has not occurred. Short of protracted legal battles, this seems the only way to avoid dumping duties.

The decisions by the ADRP are consistent with the lessons learned from the power transformer investigation, as detailed in our recent update, Power Transformer Anti-Dumping Investigation update.


From discussions with brokers and our engagement with the ACPBS we have noticed a much stricter approach by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACPBS) when it comes to importers relying on tariff concession orders (TCOs). This approach is characterised by the ACBPS clamping down on the application of broadly worded TCOs and ruling that any product that is wider than the TCO wording or comes with additional features or accessories is not covered by the TCO.

The difficulty for importers is that for many years they have been permitted to use wide scope TCOs without issue. A witness from the ACBPS admitted in a 2013 Administrative Appeals Tribunal case that previously officers had been instructed to make TCOs with "super generic" wording and the approach had been changed to require a detailed description of the goods.

While TCOs can be used by the world at large for any product that fits within the terms of the TCO, we recommend that importers identify the TCOs they use the most and either obtain a tariff advice that the TCO covers their particular import or apply for a new TCO that describes the features of their particular product. Obtaining a ruling will not stop prevent inconsistency by the ACBPS, but it will bind the ACBPS in respect of past imports.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Russell Wiese
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.