The significant volume of international trade in goods, both inbound and outbound, through Australia’s ports presents many challenges for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (‘Customs’), chief amongst these include increasingly complex supply chains, perceived unfair overseas competition to Australian industry, supply chain security, trade liberalisation and technology.

The result is a continually changing landscape of rules and regulations governing Australia’s imports and exports.  In recent times new measures have been introduced which:

  • Significantly reforms Anti-dumping and countervailing laws to afford stronger protection to Australian industry
  • Mitigates vulnerabilities at Australia's borders by increasing control of those in the supply chain
  • Introduces export controls for strategic and dual use goods moving in tangible and intangible forms
  • Governs the valuation of goods involving transfer pricing arrangements
  • Increases complexity to securing customs duty concessions for major projects (specifically in the resource, oil and gas, infrastructure projects)

Against this backdrop, Customs has recently been provided increased funding dedicated to compliance activities and an increase in penalty unit costs.  This provides clear evidence that Australian importers and exporters are facing a new international trading environment.

The general rate of customs duty in Australia is 5% (with the exception of apparel and excisable goods which attract a higher rate), however in cases where goods are not available from Australian production or are not destined for the Australian market a wide variety of customs duty concessions and suspension schemes may be available.

Australia has negotiated a wide network of bi and multi-lateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). These agreements offer Australian importers and exporters customs duty savings and preferential treatment for their goods in/from countries throughout Asia and the Pacific.  Further, Australia has a strong pipeline of FTAs currently in negotiation and has a policy of advancing FTAs which make economic sense to Australia.

When advising clients on cross border transactions, a closer examination of the issues usually highlights the true complexities of the policies and laws. Our advisers can share their experience and knowledge, not only with the customs issues at hand, but with the broader opportunities which often go unnoticed.

Our services

The PwC Australia International Trade & Excise team offers access to the largest team of dedicated professionals in the areas of customs, excise and trade advisory within Australia.  We work with organisations ranging from SMEs to major multinationals to minimise duty costs, initiate supply chain improvements, assist with dispute settlements, liaise with the various authorities and trade policy agencies, and respond to compliance needs with creative strategies and solutions in order to reduce compliance costs.

We deliver positive results for our clients, which include:

  • Minimising customs duty costs by our shared planning skills & innovative solutions, such as our Customs Duty Analyser tool
  • Enhancing your trading performance by optimising the supply chain
  • Representing your best interests with the Australian authorities and trade policy agencies
  • Responding to your compliance needs with creative strategies and solutions to reduce your compliance costs
  • Advising on all aspects of excise including classification, refunds/remissions, fuel tax credits, warehousing, internal controls, reporting and compliance

In addition to our standard services available across the region, specific services in Australia include:

Customs Duty Planning Advice

  • Securing customs duty exemptions through various duty concession mechanisms, such as the Enhanced Project By-Law Scheme and Tariff Concessions
  • Advantageous tariff classifications to lower duty rates
  • Reducing customs duty costs by employing WTO-based customs valuation rules to enable planning strategies and price unbundling
  • Efficient and optimised import/export processing

Risk Management

  • Compliance “health checks” in order to mitigate the risks that can accrue as a result of non-compliance
  • Implementation of procedures, drafting of manuals and assessment of internal controls
  • Technical assistance and strategic advice in managing audits
  • Secure advance private rulings
  • In-house customs, excise and trade training and awareness workshops

Optimise Free Trade Agreements

  • Assist companies to take full advantage of customs duty savings and enhance trade facilitation under preferential trading arrangements
  • Monitoring emerging FTAs so that future planning and benefits can be taken into account

Australian Industry Assistance

  • Industry protection- submissions and Advice on Anti Dumping and Countervailing Measures
  • Rebates of fuel tax (fuel tax credits), including design and implementation of systems, processes and controls
  • Cross border advice on trade impediments, such as intellectual property protection (trademarks and copyright) non-tariff barriers and discriminatory taxes
  • Australian Industry Participation Planning and strategy

Case studies

Reducing the landed cost of imported vehicles for a global automotive manufacturer/distributor

The Australian team recently assisted an importer and distributor of motor vehicles reduce the landed cost of vehicles into Australia by employing WTO-based customs valuation rules to enable “price unbundling”.

How we helped

The project involved the identification and substantiation of a number of intangible costs that were embedded in the price of vehicles and which could be effectively removed from their customs value on importation into Australia.

Benefit for the client

A five year binding ruling was then secured from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service to ensure technical sign-off on the issue, the outcome for the client is a recurring customs duty savings of approximately AUD 5 million per annum.

Reducing fuel tax liability for heavy on-road vehicle operators

The Australian team has recently had great success in assisting a number of our clients in obtaining significant refunds of fuel tax paid in respect of historic fuel used in heavy on-road vehicles.

How we helped

The opportunity arose from a recent court case that found that fuel used in equipment operating on board heavy vehicles is eligible for a full rebate of fuel tax, instead of the partial rebate available for road transport activities, as had been the previous position of the Australian Taxation Office. The opportunity extends to refrigerated trucks, cement trucks, waste collection vehicles, vacuum collection and excavation trucks and air-conditioned buses.

Benefit for the client

Utilising methodologies developed by PwC Australia, our clients were able to go back four years to secure millions of dollars in fuel tax refunds from the Australian Taxation Office, as well as significant additional savings going forward.

Reducing customs duty on imported capital equipment

The Australian team recently assisted a mining company in reducing its customs duty liability on imported capital equipment for a new 'greenfield' mine.

How we helped

The assignment involved providing the client with an end to -end -solution involving identification of the most effective customs duty minimisation strategy, demonstrating non-availability of the imported equipment from Australian production and realisation of the benefit as the goods were imported into Australia.

Benefit for the client

This resulted in a customs duty saving of AUD 4 million. Based on our experience, the minimisation of customs duty on imported goods for a major project can result in overall duty savings to a project of up to 1% of capital costs, as this current assignment demonstrated.

Contact us

Gary Dutton

Partner, Australia, PwC Asia Pacific Customs and Trade

Tel: +61 (7) 3257 8783

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