Doing Business In Australia: A Country Commercial Guide for U.S. Companies
Chapter 5: Trade Regulations and Standards
INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT, U.S. & FOREIGN COMMERCIAL SERVICE AND U.S.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, 2006. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED
Chapter 5: Trade Regulations and Standards
; Import Tariffs
; Trade Barriers
; Import Requirements and Documentation
; U.S. Export Controls
; Temporary Entry
; Labeling and Marking Requirements
; Prohibited and Restricted Imports
; Customs Regulations and Contact Information
; Trade Agreements
; Web Resources
Import Tariffs Return to top
The Australia U.S. Free Trade Agreement entered into effect on January 1, 2005. On that date, tariffs were eliminated on 99 % of U.S.-manufactured industrial and consumer goods, and all U.S. agricultural products exported to Australia. This is the most significant immediate reduction of industrial tariffs ever achieved in a U.S. free trade agreement. Exports of these goods account for 93% of total U.S. sales to the Australian market, and the reduction of tariffs creates new export opportunities for American manufacturers. Duties on the few remaining manufactured goods will be phased out over a period of years, the latest date being 2015.
Rules of Origin
For the purposes of tariff categorization, goods are classified according to the Harmonized System (HS). To be eligible for preferential tariff treatment under the agreement, products must originate in the United States, that is, be wholly obtained or produced in the United States, or produced in the United States wholly from other
originating materials from either Australia or the United States. They may also be produced in the United States partly from non-originating materials, if such non-originating materials meet the requirements of rules of origin, which determine the level of area content, and/or the sort of physical transformation required in the production process for the goods. The origin of the goods is determined according to the HS. Before claiming preference, local importers are required to take reasonable care to ensure that the goods meet the relevant rule of origin. AUSFTA allows for Australian importers, U.S. exporters and U.S. producers of goods to obtain advance rulings from Customs regarding importations of goods into Australia. Customs will provide written advice on origin matters through an Origin Advice (OA). The OA advises Australian importers, US producers and US exporters on specific issues relating to the origin of their goods for the purposes of determining eligibility for preferential duty rates for goods imported into Australia.
Australian Customs Manual Volume 8C, Division 10, contains information on how the AUSFTA will be administered by Customs. This manual is available on the Customs website, http://www.customs.gov.au, and the full text of the AUSFTA is available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website, http://www.dfat.gov.au.
Insert text here)
Trade Barriers Return to top
The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) is the federal body responsible for enforcing Australia‟s quarantine regulations, including the issuing of permits and inspection of shipments. The AQIS website http://www.aqis.gov.au offers substantial
Despite Australia being a signatory to the WTO “Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures” (April 15, 1994), complying with Australia‟s quarantine requirements for imports can still pose significant difficulties for U.S. exporters. Aside from issues relating to the importation of foodstuffs and animals, quarantine measures extend to include a number of other imported products including farm, mining and construction machinery, some packaging types and any other product that may pose a contamination risk to Australia‟s agricultural industry or natural environment.
The Australian government takes quarantine very seriously, and there is often little that can be done once a shipment has arrived in Australia.
Machinery imports require a number of compliance measures including:
; All imported machinery may require a permit to import issued by AQIS
; It is a condition of the permit that machinery arrives in a clean state – where
clean refers to “clean as new”
U.S. exporters should contact AQIS to determine if an import permit is required. Note: “The classification of machinery as 'new' and 'agricultural' is at AQIS' discretion. For
quarantine purposes, new field-tested or factory trialed is classified as „used machinery‟, and will require an Import Permit” (http://www.aqis.gov.au) AQIS has the power to re-.
export contaminated machinery – and has done so on numerous occasions when the
machinery landed in Australia in an unclean state.
More detailed information relating to the import of machinery can be found at - http://www.daff.gov.au/content/output.cfm?ObjectID=EA9764D2-6A41-4F60-B8B1E245FB88860C
Packaging of imported goods presents a challenge to U.S. exporters particularly where the packing materials may comprise wood or other natural products. Detailed information on the compliance requirements can be found at -
For other products that may need to comply with Australia quarantine regulations, we recommend U.S. exporters check the requirements on the AQIS import condition (ICON) database at http://www.aqis.gov.au/icon. Click on ICON Search and enter the
commodity name and end use and conduct a "pattern match" search.
Chemical Import Requirements
There are several bodies that deal with importing chemicals to Australia depending upon the proposed end use of those chemicals or compounds. The primary agency that looks after chemical imports is the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) - http://www.nicnas.gov.au
Other agencies involved in the regulation of chemical imports include: Australian Pesticides & Veterinary Medicines Authority (ASPVMA) –
Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) – http://www.tga.gov.au
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) - http://www.foodstandards.gov.au
The relevant agency and regulations that will apply to a particular chemical import depend upon the end use of the product. NICNAS has a good site illustrating the scope of the various agencies - http://www.nicnas.gov.au/australia/arca.asp
The responsibility for notification of chemical import lies with the importer of the chemical who is introducing it to Australia. This in most cases would be the local subsidiary, an Australian agent or the Australian company directly purchasing the product. Any paperwork that is required will need to be completed by this party.
The importation of chemicals into Australia can be complicated given the level of regulation. It is therefore very helpful to U.S. companies interested in the Australian market to find Australian agents or importers familiar with the requirements. NICNAS provides some guidance on the regulations in this brochure -
You may also need to ensure that your product complies with the Australian Dangerous Goods Code requirements, which are based upon international dangerous goods codes.
These are state based legislation in Australia. Details of the particular state health and safety authority can be found at the following link -
Legislation may differ among the various Australian states so we recommend checking with the appropriate state authority.
The federal body that looks after dangerous goods is the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (NOHSC). Details regarding labeling, handling and local requirements regarding Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) can be found here. It should be noted that local MSDS requirements can be different from those in the U.S.
The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) has strict regulatory processes regarding timber/wooden products importation, including wooden package and dunnage. These regulations consider contaminants, such as live insects or bark, and the age of the packaging.
The following requirements must be met when shipping timber/wooden products: 1. Each consignment must be free of live insects, bark and other quarantine risk material prior to arrival in Australia; and
2. Any packaging used with the consignment must be clean and new.
Should consignments be treated offshore and accompanied by an acceptable treatment or Phytosanitary declaration, AQIS may release the consignment after document presentation. Similarly, if the containers, timber packing, pallets or dunnage have been treated by an AQIS approved method, it may not be necessary for AQIS to undertake inspection and treatment upon arrival. However, breakbulk and airfreight consignments containing timber or dunnage will be subject to inspection upon arrival.
Further information on AQIS fees, including fumigation costs, can be obtained by viewing:
Import Requirements and Documentation Return to top
All goods imported into Australia must be cleared by Customs. Local importers are responsible for obtaining formal Customs clearance for goods.
While there are several methods of valuing goods for Customs purposes, the method most frequently applied (transaction value) is based on the price actually paid (or
payable) for the imported goods subject to certain adjustments. A major condition for using the transaction value is that there is no relationship between the buyer and seller that may influence the price. Valuation of imported goods can be complex and importers are urged to seek advice from a customs broker or to contact Australian Customs.
Goods entering Australia may incur duty and/or Goods and Services Tax (GST), and other taxes and charges. Customs duty rates vary and depend on a number of factors, such as type of goods and country of origin. For most U.S.-origin goods, duties are waived under the Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and Australia (AUSFTA) as of January 1, 2005.
Customs does not require companies or individuals to hold import licenses, but importers may need to obtain permits to clear the goods. Further information on permits is contained in the import prohibitions and restrictions chapter of the useful “Customs Guide for Business”, at:
The minimum amount of documentation required for Customs clearance comprises a completed Customs Entry or Informal Clearance Document (ICD), an air waybill (AWB) or bill of lading (BLAD), as well as invoices and other documents relating to the importation. Customs does not require the completion of a special form of invoice. Normal commercial invoices, bills of lading and receipts are acceptable. These documents should contain the following information:
; invoice terms (e.g., FOB, CIF),
; monetary unit referred to on invoice (e.g. AUD$, US$),
; country of origin,
; name and address of the seller of the goods (Consignor)
Some authorities, issuing permits required for import, publish brochures/pamphlets about their areas of concern. However, these agency publications may not always reflect current Customs legislation and procedures and, accordingly, it would be advisable to contact a Customs Information Center to check these issues.
Goods and Services Tax
The liability to pay GST for imports rests with the importer. Payment of GST may not be required if the goods are being imported temporarily. Imported second-hand goods are treated the same way as any taxable goods and are therefore subject to GST. Under the GST, the amount paid or payable for international transport and insurance is also added to the taxable importation value. GST is currently levied at a rate of 10%. Further information on GST can be found on the Australian Tax Office Website: http://www.ato.gov.au
U.S. Export Controls Return to top
Australia is recognized as an important contributor to international control regimes relating to weapons of mass destruction. As such, it maintains a system of export controls on defense and dual-use items. Export controls on strategic goods are
enforced through the Customs Prohibited Exports regulation, and administered by the Australian Department of Defense. Controlled goods are consolidated into the Defense and Strategic Goods List, containing defense and related, nuclear, and dual-use goods. Controls are applied through permits or licenses issued by the Department of Defense Trade Control and Compliance Section. Goods are listed with numbering common to major trading partners in strategic goods, and the numbering system of the Munitions List is derived from the Wassenaar Arrangement.
Australia is a member of international export control regimes including the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies, the Australia Group on chemical and biological weapons materials, and the Nuclear Suppliers' Group, and the Missile Technology Control Regime. Guidance for Australia‟s controls on exports is obtainable by visiting:
Australian Customs is responsible for enforcement of the regulations at the point of export. Customs issues Export Clearance Numbers, based on export data lodged by exporters, which are checked electronically against required permits and licenses. Cargo may not leave Australian points of departure unless allocated an Export Clearance Number.
Temporary Entry Return to top
Goods may be brought into Australia on a temporary basis without the payment of duty or taxes for a period of up to twelve months. These goods, referred to as Temporary Imports, are considered temporary according to sections of the Australian Customs Act, or because of entry under a 'carnet'. All temporary imports must be re-exported within the period approved by Customs. The nature of the goods, what they will be used for while they are in Australia, and who is importing them will determine the provisions for which the goods may be eligible. Australia accepts two types of carnets, ATA Carnets and CPD carnets (more commonly known as FIA/AIT carnets).
The provisions cover temporary importation of goods owned by tourists and temporary residents, and goods in certain categories such as traveler's samples and goods imported for display at trade fairs. Also covered are goods eligible for admission under the provisions of certain international agreements to which Australia has acceded, information about which can be found in the Australian Treaties Library at: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/dfat/treaties/
Copies of normal commercial import documents such as invoices, packing lists, bills of lading or airway bills, quarantine certificates and other shipping papers should be lodged with the any application for temporary entry, together with evidence of intended use of the goods in accordance with the relevant Customs Convention(s).
Labeling and Marking Requirements Return to top
U.S. suppliers should be aware of Australia‟s rules and procedures regulating the
packaging, labeling, ingredients, marketing and sale of specific products, and of general weights and measures.
In general, goods imported in the packages in which they are customarily sold or offered for sale need to be marked with a true description of the goods and the country in which the goods were made. The trade description needs to be applied to the packages in prominent and legible characters. Any additional information applied and/or labeled on the packages must be true and may not contradict or obscure the information required as part of the trade description.
The quantity of a commodity sold in a package must be truly stated on the main display panel of the package, in units of the metric system. The word “net” should always be
used when expressing quantity in mass.
The joint Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code requires all packaged food to be labeled with nutritional information on how much fat, protein, energy, carbohydrates, and salt is in the product. Labels must also show the percentage of key ingredients and all of the main ingredients that may cause allergies.
Information on the Food Standards Code (and a nutritional panel example) can be viewed on the website of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ),
www.foodstandards.gov.au/foodstandardscode/. Detailed guidance is also available in
the Foreign Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards (FAIRS) report from the Office of the Agricultural Counselor, US Embassy, Canberra, Australia. This report is updated each year. A copy of the latest FAIRS report (#AS5020) can be found by conducting a search on the following web site:
Mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods, where introduced DNA or protein is present in the final product, came into force in Australia in December 2001. Details of the requirements for biotech labeling and other labeling requirements are available in FSANZ User Guides at the following web site:
U.S. exporters should ask their Australian importer to ensure that their products comply with Australian Federal and State Government labeling regulations.
Prohibited and Restricted Imports Return to top
Australia has stringent prohibitions and quarantines against a number of products, particularly those considered to be of potential public danger and agricultural products that are considered to have the potential to introduce pests or disease (see section below). Restricted items include drugs, steroids, weapons/firearms, heritage items, food, plants and animals, and protected wildlife. It is important to note that while some items may be imported, their use may be prohibited under individual State laws.
Sanitary and Phytosanitary Restrictions Affecting Imports
Australia has stringent sanitary and phytosanitary restrictions affecting imports of fresh fruit and vegetables and imports of meat and poultry products. Under Australia‟s
quarantine and inspection process, foreign-grown agricultural commodities must have an import risk analysis (IRA) before entering the country. An IRA to determine how and if the risk can be managed can take an average of two years to complete. Australia‟s “acceptable level of protection” is considered extremely restrictive, making access to the Australian market often difficult, expensive, time-consuming, and in some cases, virtually impossible.
All produce should have an Australian import permit and a U.S. phytosanitary certificate. The import permit can be requested from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Australia in Canberra, or from the appropriate State Departments of Agriculture, located in the respective State capitals. The permit may specify additional import requirements.
When applying for import permits, as much detail as possible should be provided as to where the product is grown and how it is processed, so that the appropriate advice on treatments can be given without having to request additional information from the U.S. exporter.
All meat and poultry products must be accompanied by an Australian Import Permit and appropriate USDA Animal Health Certificate, and must originate from a plant approved for export to Australia.
U.S. poultry, fresh and frozen, and in-shell eggs cannot be imported due to sanitary restrictions. An IRA was carried out for cooked U.S. poultry, but the resulting cooking times and temperatures are excessively high and would tend to render the product unpalatable. Restrictive plant health regulations prohibit or limit the entry of many fruits and vegetables.
The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) has a detailed import conditions database on their website, called ICON, at http://www.aqis.gov.au/icon. Click
on ICON Search and enter the commodity name and end use and conduct a “pattern match” search.
The AQIS site (http://www.aqis.gov.au) also contains information on Australian labeling
requirements for imported packaged food, requirements for animals and animal products, documents for public comment (including import risk analyses), fee schedules, on-line forms, WTO Sanitary & Phytosanitary notifications, etc. This information is updated regularly.
Customs Regulations and Contact Information Return to top
The Australian Government expects that the international trading community will comply with Customs-related law in all transactions involving the importation of goods and services. Minimum documentation begins with a waybill and commercial invoice.
Customs regulates the movement of goods and people across the Australian border and collects customs and other revenue. A principal objective is to maximize voluntary compliance and eliminate future errors. Customs does not scrutinize every transaction, relying on clients to self-assess the correctness of transactions. Australian importers are legally responsible for the accuracy of information supplied to Customs, regardless who
prepares the documents. Cargo reporters, importers, customs brokers, freight forwarders, depot and warehouse proprietors, financial institutions, information storage facilities, bureau services, owners, stevedores, etc may be subject to compliance checks conducted by Customs, using its monitoring powers under the Customs Act. The importer is also responsible under the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) for verification of the country of origin. The shipper should declare on the commercial
invoice “the goods are of U.S. manufacture and comply with AUSFTA”.
Goods and Service Tax is an Australian Federal Tax and is payable by the importer on the value of the goods, plus foreign freight, plus import duty if applicable. Goods imported under AUSFTA are not excluded from GST.
Penalties apply for non-compliance with Customs legislation, and offences do not require intent to be proven. Information and legislation requirements associated with import and export transactions are extensive. It is the responsibility of clients to familiarize themselves with the information provided by Customs. All imported goods must be entered in accordance with approved documentation, classified correctly, and any surplus goods reported. Items not ordered, samples, and promotional merchandise must also be entered. All relevant commercial documents must be retained for five years from the date of entry.
Clicking on this link will take you to Australian Customs web site:
http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page.cfm. The site provides extensive information and
guidance, some of which was used in the preparation of this section. For more details about information on the Customs web site, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Clients
can also contact a Customs Information and Support Center on 1300 363 263 from anywhere within Australia, or + 61 2 6275 6666 from outside Australia.
Standards Return to top
; Standards Organizations
; Conformity Assessment
; Product Certification
; Publication of Technical Regulations
; Labeling and Marking
Overview Return to top
Australia is a signatory to the GATT/WTO Standards Code. Use of quality standards, such as the IS0 9000 series, is common and increasing. Standards Australia, the national standards body, has a Quality Assessment division and can provide a list of those companies adhering to the IS0 9000 series.
Australia still has in place various standards that can affect product entry, and while these may require product modifications, they are not insurmountable obstacles to U.S. companies.
Standards Organizations Return to top
Standards Australia, a non-profit organization, is Australia‟s leading standards
development organization. While not a government agency, through a Memorandum of Understanding with the Commonwealth Government, Standards Australia is recognized as the leading (“peak”) non-government standards development body in Australia. It has 72 Members representing groups with an interest in the development and application of standards. It is Australia‟s representative on the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and the Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC).
Standards Australia develops and maintains more than 7,000 Australian Standards, prepared by 1,500 committees. It publishes and distributes standards through a private corporation, SAI Global Ltd.
There are other standards organizations as well, but chief among these for U.S. exporters are: the Australian Communications Authority (ACA), the Australian Environmental Protection Agency, and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) mandates technical standards relating to items of customer equipment, customer cabling and specified devices. These standards include the Electromagnetic Compatibility Arrangements (EMC) and Electromagnetic Radiation Arrangements (EMR). Before a product covered by the EMC regulatory arrangements can be sold in Australia it must be tested to applicable standards and labeled. The label consists of a mark called “C-Tick” and a unique
supplier identification. The C-Tick mark is intended for use on products that comply with EMC standards.
Safety-related automotive parts and accessories on a vehicle for environmental compliance (EPA compliant) must adhere to Australian Design Rules and Australian automotive standards as well as environmental compliance from the Australian Environmental Protection Agency. However, the supply of OE (Original Equipment) automotive parts must adhere to Quality System QS9000, the system adopted in the U.S. by Ford, General Motors and Chrysler.
Certain medical devices and equipment must receive approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) prior to use.
Imported consumer products, such as food products, must comply with state packaging regulations. However, the Australian states agree that any product, including imports, meeting the legal requirements of one state, may be sold in all other states and territories. State agricultural quarantines prohibit interstate trade of some items.
American exporters of food products to Australia will find their product falling under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. The standards within the code are developed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). This is a bi-national independent statutory authority that develops food standards for composition, labeling and contaminants, including microbiological limits, that apply to all foods produced or imported for sale in Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, FSANZ (formerly ANZFA)