The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has made available a portal which allows you to find information about existing free trade agreements between Australia and other nations but also assistance and information for importers and exporters.
From the Portal website:
The FTA Portal enables businesses to explore the benefits made available under Australia’s Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with China, Japan and South Korea. While the FTA Portal currently showcases the North Asian agreements, additional agreements are coming soon.
The FTA Portal is a comprehensive resource for exporters and importers, who are looking for up-to-date tariff and import market data and general trade related information, that is simple to use on desktop, tablet and mobile.
As always, ActivFreight are here to help and if you have any questions about the information on the portal feel free to get in contact with us.
The following is a list of the basic documentation needed for all imports
It is Necessary to have a link between the commercial documents and the Bill of Lading (Container Number / Bill of Lading Number).
To avoid Fumigation formalities, Activfreight suggest that the importer request their supplier use plastic pallets when packing the cargo for shipping. Going a step further the supplier should then acknowledge the use of plastic pallets on all documentation (Bill of Lading, Commercial Invoice and Packing List).
Documentation depending on type of cargo:
Permits that may be required on Importation –
Our experienced freight consultants and licensed customs brokers will explain any other documentation required at time of quoting taking into consideration your cargo type and information provided at this time.
Incoterms are a series of pre-defined, internationally recognised commercial terms that are used to communicate the sellers and the purchasers’ tasks, costs and responsibilities associated with the transportation and delivery of goods. They are represented as a series of three letter codes. The most common Incoterms include:
EXW (Ex Works) – All costs and responsibility lie with the buyer. These include but are not limited to arranging collection from the supplier, transport to port, export clearance, freight charges, insurance, import customs clearance and delivery.
CFR (Cost and Freight) – Ownership transfers from the seller to the buyer at the specified port. The seller pays the freight costs to the port. The buyer is responsible for arrival charges, clearance and domestic transport.
CIF (Cost Insurance and Freight) – Ownership transfers from the seller to the buyer at the specified port. The seller pays the freight costs and bears the insurance risk to that location. The buyer is responsible for arrival charges, clearance and transport from the port to destination.
FOB (Free on Board) – The seller is responsible for delivery to the wharf or airport, export clearance and loading onto the vessel or aircraft. The buyer pays the cost of freight from that point on. Ownership and risk is transferred at ‘the shipper’s rail’. This literally means that if the container is damaged on the wharf it is at the seller’s risk, if it is damaged on the vessel, it’s the buyer’s risk.
I have just finished reading an article in today’s Lloyds List Australia publication, which lands in my inbox daily with a feed of news for our industry. The article is entitled “OPINION: Customs puts the spotlight on brokers” and provides some commentary in relation to new legislation for customs brokers to comply with.
Without going into specific details of the new legislation, to summarise, customs brokers now have to attend regular training (delivered in a number of methods, via internet and “classroom” training) all with a points structure attached to the training sessions. These points are known as CPD points (Continuing Professional Development), Individual brokers are required to achieve a certain amount of points annually.
In conjunction with the CPD Points, customs have also been very vocal with their intention to assess the extent of ‘due diligence’ checks by licensed brokers on their clients. The article highlights the fact that for many importers the actual clearance of the goods through Australian borders is arranged by the freight forwarder shipping the goods from the originating country, rather than the importer engaging the service of a Customs Broker directly. In a number of transactions the Importer may never in fact even speak directly to the Customs Broker.
With all of this in mind, it really posed the question for me “who does your customs broker work for?” Is it the importer, is it the freight forwarder or is it customs?
Yes the importer pays the professional fees for the broker to make a declaration, but it is the freight forwarder who has engaged the brokers services. How many importers actually speak directly to the broker, or is all communication via your freight forwarder? Many importers may not realise they are being “spoken for”, and this can have some detrimental effects on an importers business. Is the correct duty rates being charged, is all applicable Tariff concessions being applied, I believe that some importers take for granted that all of the correct information is given to customs therefore there is little follow up done in these cases.
The unfortunate fact is that if customs (through the new legislations and follow up procedures) find that a broker is not carrying out due diligence and declared an import incorrectly, the department will not only follow through with penalties for them but you as the importer will be asked to pay any shortfall of duties and taxes as well as possible penalties.
I cannot tell you how many times we have been met with “Previous Brokers have never asked that question before”, like we are doing something wrong by ensuring that the importer is properly represented. If your Freight Forwarder is not asking questions and really getting to know your business and its products, then there is something wrong!!!