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Henning Harders April Newsletter

Table of Contents

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) 

DAWE advise industry of delays in Import Permit Applications.

In recent months, Importers and Brokers have experienced longer than usual timeframes in the processing of import permit applications. 

This is due to an increasing volume of permit applications being received. Whilst the Biosecurity Act provides up to 123 days to assess permit applications, the department in practice aims to assess 90% in 20 business days. At present (April 2021) the assessment timeframe is approximately five to seven weeks per application.

So please:

• Check your Import permit expiry dates.

• When we apply for a new import permit, or renewing a current import permit on your behalf, we need to ensure all information is provided at time of lodging the application.

• All information supplied in support of the import permit application must meet the department’s minimum documentary and import declaration requirements policy. Often delays occur because documents provided do not meet these requirements.

• Where possible, submit import permit applications early. We recommend applying up to three months in advance of when you need the permit.

• If you are unsure, kindly liaise with Steve Butler or your Key Account Manager to identify any of your products that do or may require an import permit.

Faster Biosecurity Border Clearance

Joint Media Release from the Hon. David Littleproud PM and The Hon. Ben Morton MP. 

On 20 April 2021, the Hon. David Littleproud MP and Hon. Ben Morton MP, released a joint media release advising of a new Government trial scheme aimed at reducing red tape and biosecurity costs.

• Government to trial scheme that aims to reduce red tape and biosecurity regulatory costs for importers and agricultural businesses.

• Recognition of good industry business systems and compliance levels will allow department to concentrate on higher risk areas.

•This proposal aligns with findings of the Inspector-General of Biosecurity.

This proposal will involve the design and delivery of up to three pilots with highly compliant entities to test the ability to manage end to end biosecurity risks across importer supply chains.

Fast Facts:

• Depending on participant capacity, the trials will run simultaneously or consecutively, with the first commencing 1 July 2021. All pilots will conclude by the end of 2021. 

• Faster biosecurity clearance processes will benefit farmers and producers who require goods from overseas (e.g. machinery parts, fertiliser) to operate or advance their business, particularly where those goods are in short supply within Australia.

• Australia’s biosecurity system also protects $42 billion in inbound tourism, $53 billion in agricultural exports and 1.6 million Australian jobs across the supply chain.  

To read the entire release, please refer to the following link: Joint media release: Faster biosecurity border clearance | Ministers (awe.gov.au)

If you are interested in participating, please contact Andrew Crawford or Steve Butler from our Advisory team.

Australian Border Force

Australian Border Force (ABF) have recently released their Autumn 2021 “Goods Compliance Update”.

Spotlight on asbestos compliance 

The ABF will continue to focus on asbestos compliance this year. Importers should take a precautionary approach when importing into Australia goods that present a high risk for containing asbestos. 

While the ABF has fully applied Australia’s asbestos border controls since the introduction of legislation listing asbestos as a prohibited import, they are now concentrating efforts to ensure that asbestos is not deliberately or inadvertently entering the Australian building market in materials used for residential and commercial developments. Building materials known to pose a risk include cut stone and manufactured stone, cement fibre products used in products such as internal tiles, floorboards, ceiling panels and wall boards, prefabricated kits (houses, trailers, and caravans) and modules for residential and commercial applications.

Importers of building material should: 

  • ensure that they have documentary evidence to demonstrate that the risk management of their supply chain effectively addresses asbestos. If the ABF is not assured, the importer will be directed under the Act to have the building materials sampled and tested for asbestos.
  • ensure their risk management processes are up to date and take into consideration whether the country of manufacture allows any use of asbestos in the goods being imported. Contaminated raw materials and irregular third-party suppliers can introduce asbestos into a supply chain. Importers should question if the manufacturer tests raw materials for asbestos and if the supplier takes measures to actively source asbestos-alternative ingredients. 
  • be mindful that there is a risk in sourcing materials from a supplier that cannot provide evidence of there being no asbestos in their supply chain. If a third-party or wholesale supplier does not have first-hand knowledge of the manufacturing processes, the effect of brand damage to the importer’s commercial reputation is likely to be significant if asbestos is detected. Business decisions should not be influenced by cheaper prices from manufacturers that knowingly use asbestos but also guarantee risk-free production. These suppliers should be avoided altogether. The financial losses that are suffered when goods are seized, and the potential fines incurred are likely to far outweigh any initial price benefit. 
  • understand that newly manufactured goods containing asbestos are not always of poor quality in appearance and may be entirely functional for their intended purpose. If they contain asbestos, however, they are prohibited. 

Extra caution should be applied when importing items originating from countries that have non-existent, less stringent or poor regulatory controls. In many countries, despite the known threat to human health, local standards allow asbestos in manufacturing. Goods manufactured outside Australia might be labelled ‘asbestos free’ or ‘no-asbestos’, but still contain low levels of asbestos. Accordingly, care should also be taken when interpreting any overseas asbestos certifications or assurances, as some countries lawfully allow trace levels of asbestos up to a certain threshold, but Australian regulations do not allow for any trace amounts of asbestos.

For more information on asbestos and how to comply with Australian legal requirements please refer to the information on the ABF website here: https://www.abf.gov.au/importing-exporting-and-manufacturing/prohibited-goods/categories/asbestos.

Chrysotile asbestos detected in cement fibre boards shipped as part of a prefabricated house kit (source: ABF https://www.abf.gov.au/prohibited-goods-subsite/files/ABF_detections_of_asbestos.pdf

Customs Licensing – Depots & Warehouses 

Renewal of customs depot and warehouse licences 

All customs depot and warehouse licences are up for renewal at the end of the financial year. 

Renewal Invoices 

Licence holders will be provided renewal invoices by 15 June 2021. If licence holders do not receive a renewal invoice by this date, they should notify Customs Licensing via an email to licensing@abf.gov.au This will ensure the licence holder will have adequate time to pay their renewal invoice and avoid any disruptions to their operations. 

Renewal Payment 

All warehouse licence fees must be paid within twenty-eight days of the date on which they become payable. If payment has not been received by that time, the Comptroller-General of Customs may suspend and subsequently cancel the licence. All depot licence fees must be paid before 30 June 2021. If the licence fee has not been paid by this time a Collector may refuse to permit goods that are the subject to customs control to be received into the depot. If the holder fails to pay the charge by 30 September 2021, the licence expires. 

Licence re-issue 

The ABF will send out renewal certificates to licence holders once the renewal invoice has been paid. It is estimated that the new renewal certificates will not be sent out until late July due to the number of licences being processed.

If you need any assistance or advice, please contact Steve Butler from Harders Advisory.

Landside Logistics

Terminal Updates

DP World and Patrick Port Botany have issued Notices concerning Stop Work Meetings on Saturday 1 May 2021 between 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. During these times, there will be no terminal operations at DP World or Patrick terminals, due to an authorised four-hour stop work meeting.  In Melbourne, VICT have also received formal notice that the MUA will proceed with Protected Industrial Actions consisting of the following stoppages:

• 12 hour stoppage starting at 00:01 on Saturday 1st May

• 12 hour stoppage starting at 00:01 on Monday 3rd May

We are working with transport providers to minimise the impact of these stoppages however importers should prepare for delays either side of the stoppages and potential waiting times as the terminals attempt to clear the backlog that will be caused by the industrial action. Further to this, DP World has also announced another round of Infrastructure fee increases to commence from the 1st May 2021 at their Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne ports. 

Melbourne Terminal Spotlight

Container trade through Melbourne in March finished on a high with an increase of 33.5% from March 2020 to 114,867 full overseas import containers. Interestingly the export of empty containers increased 77.8% to 60,623 containers as shipping lines continue to send in sweeper vessels to assist removing the backlog of empty containers. This is a welcome relief to industry which continued to struggle with over capacity at key Empty Yards in Melbourne over the past 3-6 months.

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