At its recent Industry Summit the Department of Immigration
& Border Protection (DIBP) stressed a collaborative approach
which continues a shift from a pure compliance and enforcement
focus to one of working with industry to facilitate fast and
seamless movement of legitimate trade. The Industry Summit, like
the DIBP itself, was broad reaching. But for the Australian trade
community, the following are some interesting points that came out
of the Industry Summit.
Overall framework at the border
The government wants to see fast border clearance with minimal
interference, to support business growth. Business, represented by
peak body Australian Industry Group, wants stability,
predictability and ease at the border, to enable business to
compete globally. The priority of the ABF is to manage and
facilitate these expectations for legitimate trade, balanced
against the need for community security.
Hunt & Hunt comment: The recent
approach to asbestos shows that security will always trump trade
There has been significant increase in volumes over the past
number of years, driven largely by the globalisation of supply
chains. Modern supply chains are more complicated and move faster,
which is more complex for ABF.
Hunt & Hunt comment: The approach
in recent years to regulating cargo reporting shows the Customs Act
is not designed for modern supply chains.
Australian Trusted Trader
This program continues to form an important part of the overall
border framework. It is a profound shift for the DIBP from
regulatory and compliance to one of trust. It is also a shift from
assessment at a transactional level to one at an entity level. It
offers the best opportunity for fast and seamless border clearance
for legitimate trade. To optimise benefits for the importing and
exporting community, a key element of the program is to enter into
Mutual Recognition Agreements with other countries. To this end,
negotiations are under way with a number of countries with whom
Australia already has free trade agreements.
Hunt & Hunt comment: The challenge
for the DIBP remains delivering benefits that makes the program
appeal to a wide variety of importers.
Single window initiative
DIBP is considering how business/importers can give a piece of
information to Government one time and that piece of information is
used by multiple government departments in different ways for
Hunt & Hunt comment: This is a
welcome goal. However, at this stage we would settle for the
different areas of the DIBP being able to use the same information.
Our experience has been that, at times, the teams issuing tariff
advices and regulating refunds seemingly work for different
DIBP is investing heavily in technology, and particularly
integrated systems, over the next four to five years. Technology
and automation are critical for DIBP to meet the ever increasing
demands at the border.
Hunt & Hunt comment: It is hard to
see how a single window is realistic while the ICS is being used.
More flexible technology will also increase Australian Trusted
Talk to DIBP
The evidence indicates that if you voluntarily report an issue
to DIBP, this usually leads to a positive outcome. In most cases,
DIBP works with importers, rather than initiate further compliance
Hunt & Hunt comment: Our view is
that the DIBP's approach to voluntary disclosure is better than
most countries. It is an appropriate and effective risk management
tool where there has been suspected non-compliance.
Working with the Customs Act
One interesting issue raised at the Industry Summit was the
dated nature of the Customs Act. This piece of legislation,
originally written in 1901 (but amended many times since!) does not
reflect the modern nature of trade in goods. The question was posed
by industry – what might legislation look like if it were
Hunt & Hunt comment: New Zealand
has shown this can be done. There may be easier and quicker
problems to solve, but until the Customs Act is modernised, for
every minor problem solved, new problems will appear.
On a final note...
The DIBP wants to have continued engagement with industry on a
year round basis. This was reinforced by Michael Pezzullo
(Secretary) and Roman Quaedvlieg (Commissioner) and filtered right
through the organisation at the Industry Summit.
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