THE INTERNATIONAL Forwarders and Customs Brokers Association of Australia has called on the government to establish a new office of trade facilitation to review work being done by the Simplified Trade System Implementation Taskforce.

This was among the recommendations in IFCBAA’s response to the STS Implementation Taskforce’s recently published consultation paper.

In the paper, the taskforce iterated the importance of trade to Australia’s economy, but said, according to the World Bank, it takes an average of 43 hours to complete documentary and border compliance processes for a typical Australian shipment by sea.

Through the taskforce, the government is working to simplify rules and processes and improve the user experience for businesses.

In the paper, the taskforce said it had engaged with more than 127 businesses and 33 industry associations to inform the direction of the recommendation and questions in the paper.

“We are preparing a set of regulatory, digital and data reforms to make trade rules and processes simpler and easier to comply with,” the taskforce wrote in the paper.

“This includes efforts to increase digitalisation and data sharing and provide more integrated trade-related services in a way that ensures Australia maintains strong border, biosecurity and community protections.”

In its response, IFCBAA also suggests creating a clearing house, or similar mechanism, where industry can refer difficult issues to be resolved by experts from various agencies.

“Such a concept would address the question of guidance on regulatory requirements especially for niche commodities and complex regulation interpretation,” the association wrote in its paper.

“Further, IFCBAA believes that government should provide one single source of information regarding regulation of the supply chain. In other words, a portal or one stop shop where a member of the supply chain can seek information on what regulation needs to be observed for specific transactions and the member of the supply chain is provided with links to relevant regulation and a summary of the requirements. This would be especially relevant for micro, small and medium Enterprises (MSME) who otherwise would not have the appreciation of the breadth of the regulation.”

In its response paper, IFCBAA made several other important recommendations including:

  • the creation of a fully integrated single trade window,
  • adopting a more advanced compliance model that rewards compliant behaviour while applying penalties to non-compliant behaviour,
  • more sharing of relevant data across agencies so data only needs to be entered once, and
  • removing nuisance tariffs.