Trade up while Customs cut

International trade between Australia and overseas has increased, yet customs staff numbers have been steadily decreasing.

Exports have climbed 90 per cent since 1991-92 and imports have risen 60 per cent during the same period.

Despite this, the number of customs officers have decreased by 20 per cent or by 1,000 staff since 1991-92 according to the latest Australian Customs Service Journal – Manifest.

Since 1991-92, Australia’s exports have been growing at a greater rate than imports, but in the last financial year Australia still had a trade deficit of $11 billion.

During 1998-99 the value of imports climbed 8 per cent to $98 billion, while the level of exports fell 2 per cent to $86 billion.

The growing disparity between imports and exports was due, in part, to the fall in commodity prices as well as strong domestic consumption that drove demand for imports.

Imports may have risen by 60 per cent since 1991-92 but the taxes or import duties arising from imports has only increased by 20 per cent.

In 1998-99, just under $4 billion was raised from import duties. Put differently, these duties represent less than 4 per cent of the value of the imports.

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