A helping hand on trade

MOST businesses, particularly those under-resourced or under-skilled, will need to rely on other organisations for advice and help when it comes to international trade.

This assistance may come from a logistics firm, an agent, shipping company, patent and trade-mark attorney, cargo inspection companies, freight forwarder or customs broker.

Freight forwarders are companies specialising in providing complete transport services to and from any part of the world. The forwarder can provide advice on the quickest and most economical means to transport, the best packaging to suit the transport, and compliance with documentation and regulations.

Perhaps the greatest advantage offered by a freight forwarder is the ability to utilise economies of scale. The products may be packaged together with those

of another company, providing cheaper transport costs.

Customs brokers can also prove to be beneficial. Customs brokers provide advice on all matters relating to the movement of goods from factory to warehouse, including customs law and quarantine matters.

Customs brokers act under licences issued by the Australian Customs Service. They can provide information to importers on customs tariffs including rates of duty and the methods of goods clearance.

In addition, they should be aware of tariff concessions, dumping prohibited goods and government taxes.

Another role they perform is to assist the exporter or importer on receiving, preparing and processing the correct documents.

Most goods intended for export must come with a notification for customs. Most customs brokers or freight forwarders can lodge this online in order to get clearance. Documents must often come with a certificate of origin, an ATA Carnet and Force Majeure Certificates.

The broker may also make reservations with shipping or airline companies for freight to be exported and arrange for the clearance of cargo.

The broker may also be called on to liaise with the Australian Customs Service and other government agencies in the correct clearance of goods through customs. If this step is not done correctly, the goods will not be able to board the ship or aircraft.

The customs broking and freight forwarding industries are arguably dealing with one of the greatest changes since customs laws were introduced in 1901.

The current EXIT electronic system, which allows an exporter or their broker to lodge documents online, is under-going significant changes. EXIT II is being phased out and is being replaced with the ICS, or Integrated Cargo System, as part of Customs Cargo Management Re-engineering (CMR) project.

From November this year all goods other than some bulk goods and exempt goods will require a customs authority number. Manifests and sub-manifests will only be accepted electronically and simplified reporting will be introduced for accredited clients.

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