Tuesday 13th Nov, 2018

THE BROKER’S VIEW: Talking trade with the CBFCA

Photo: Ian Ackerman
Photo: Ian Ackerman

THE CBFCA has conducted demonstrations of its new electronic tariff, with great reviews from members. It is a competitive product for members’ classification needs, whether they be imports or exports. It is an ever-evolving software product to be updated as we receive member requests. With it currently in test mode, where it is available to all members for free, it is to be officially launched on 1 July 2018.

Regulatory engagement
While the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force regularly talk of industry engagement, this only seems to be happening at a senior management level. Involvement at this level is welcomed by the CBFCA. However, it is at the operational day-to-day level where improvement is required.

Industry stakeholders trying to resolve issues in relation to current shipments, refunds and valuation regularly find themselves referred from department to department, receiving email auto responses. These stakeholders should have a direct link to the ABF to be able to find an officer able to resolve the issue at hand. Border and community protection is a shared responsibility and the ABF needs to consider improving its interface and industry’s access to skilled officers.

While the CBFCA has obtained a high-level organisation chart, it is short of the contacts needed for industry to run successful businesses. The CBFCA will continue to seek an operational-level contact list for members.

GST on low-value threshold goods
While industry has seen various communications from the ABF and the Australian Tax Office, it is fair to say there are still many within industry who are confused. At the recent round of regional CBFCA conventions, the ATO gave presentations that went some way towards easing members’ concerns. It was made quite clear the ATO’s follow-up actions would be towards the overseas entity, however the ABF presentation still leaves members concerned of potential penalty action down the track.

The ABF provided screen shots of FIDs and SACs, and advised that should industry not have the necessary evidence of GST having been paid at the point of sale or a VIN, they should process the clearance in the normal way. It is then up to the ATO to follow-up non-collection at the point of sale overseas. The CBFCA will continue to represent members concerns to both the ATO and ABF and work to ensure the protection of members in this area.

BMSB post-season review
DAWR is undertaking a review of the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) risk season and currently working with industry to identify performance improvements for season 2018-19.

The emergency measures applied to the 2017/2018 BMSB season challenged the Department and industry with the facilitation of trade at the border resulting in extended delays in cargo clearance and additional costs.

For next season’s measures, the Department is expected to use the experiences and data from the recent season to prepare a BMSB management strategy for next season.

The CBFCA will continue to consult with the department on any proposed measures prior to the commencement of the next BMSB risk season.

The Ombudsman
The Commonwealth Ombudsman has released a report into processing delays for inbound containerised sea cargo. In May 2017 the Ombudsman’s office started an investigation into the administration of powers under the Customs Act 1901 by the then ABF.

The CBFCA had raised concerns about unnecessary delays stemming from the ABF’s administration of its customs-related powers.

Since July 2012, the office has received 356 approaches related to the border control area of the ABF.
The report lists recommendations which address many of the concerns CBFCA and industry have raised in regards staffing levels, processing times, infrastructure, the ability for clear communication and a clearly detailed compensation process.

The CBFCA is pleased with the reception by the Ombudsman and looks forward to working closely with the ABF to assist in putting in place its recommendations.

The Ombudsman will engage in further discussions with the CBFCA on the progress of these recommendations and will also seek a combined meeting with other key stakeholders. 

This article appeared in the July edition of DCN Magazine

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