New export world a test for industry

THE way exporting is done will change significantly in 2003, and exporters are warned to stay abreast of the changes or risk losing their business livelihood.

Australian Customs is introducing a new computer system which will revolutionise the way exporting is achieved. The result is that industry must follow suit, updating their existing systems to comply with the changes.

Underpinning the Cargo Management Reengineering project, Federal Parliament passed the Customs Legislation Amendment and Repeal (International Trade Modernisation) Act which introduced the greatest changes in the Custom Service’s 100-year history.

Seafreight Council of WA executive director Micheal O’Callaghan said the significant changes were a vast improvement on the current system but exporters needed to ensure that they were prepared.

The changes seek to modernise the way Customs manages the movement of cargo into

and out of Australia including high-risk goods at the border while providing industry

with flexible reporting standards.

The threshold for the reporting of an export entry is now raised from $500 to $2,000 per consignment while all goods that require a permit, regardless of the value of the goods, must be reported to customs via an export entry.

The amendments also give Customs officers’ new powers to enter any premises, with or without the consent of the occupier, to monitor compliance with customs-related laws. Powers include searching premises, inspecting and analysing goods, and testing and operating accounting and computer systems.

The changes will impact on every link in the export chain, including freight forwarders, cargo terminal operators and shipping companies. The changes will be even greater for those currently reporting manually.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA Trade Services manager Keith Seed said he understood the main reason for the changes were to provide more accurate trading data for the Australian Bureau of Statistics. However he said the streamlined process should provide some cost benefits to industry, although there was some concerns with the level of penalties being introduced.

Customs is currently trialling and rolling out the Integrated Cargo System beginning with one company, DHL, and will eventually involve only air cargo companies who are document special reporters dealing in high volume, low value goods.

By November 2003, customs existing reporting system EXIT will be switched off and the ICS will commence operations across the export and importing spectrum.

In October, Customs had an organisational shake-up to deal with the reengineering project.

The new structure removes the distinction been border and commercial areas. Border managed physical functions such as movement, reporting and security of cargo. The Commercial business area managed import and export transactions and revenue collection and the overseeing of regulatory requirements.

From this three business lines have emerged: Cargo and Trade; Border Compliance and Enforcement; and Border Intelligence and Passenger.

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