The Australian Government’s new Trusted Trader Program offers the opportunity for businesses to improve their supply chain efficiency by taking advantage of reduced regulatory burdens and streamlined customs processes. For agribusiness to capture the opportunities presented by the Program, it will be important to start taking steps now to ensure satisfaction of the eligibility criteria by the time that the Program becomes fully operational in July 2016.

About the Program

The Australian Trusted Trader Program (ATT Program) was developed by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (Department), based on the World Customs Organization’s SAFE Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade (WCO SAFE Framework).

The ATT Program allows accredited entities that meet or exceed international supply chain security and trade compliance standards (Trusted Traders) to benefit from “reduced regulatory burden and streamlined customs processes”. Entities that can become accredited are those involved in the international trade supply chain, including importers, exporters, domestic or international freight companies, ports, airports and brokers.

Participation in the ATT Program is voluntary and free of cost, although there may be business costs associated with meeting the qualification criteria. It will therefore be important to consider whether the costs of participating in the ATT Program are outweighed by the benefits (see below on benefits).

The ATT Program will be fully operational and open to all businesses (i.e. holders of an Australian Business Number) which are involved in the international trade supply chain from 1 July 2016. It is currently running on a pilot basis (since 1 July 2015), involving the following stages:

  • Stage 1 focuses on export supply chains and sea cargo. It involves four export companies (Boeing Aerostructures Australia, Devondale Murray Goulburn, Mondelez Australia and Techwool Trading) and their supply chain service providers.
  • Stage 2 broadens the scope to include importers and their supply chain operators. It also includes air cargo consignments for both exporters and importers.
  • Stage 3 opens the ATT Program to other businesses. It will involve about 40 eligible participants and their trade intermediaries.

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Benefits for Trusted Traders

According to the Department, the ATT Program will allow exporters to “obtain faster clearance and easier access to their goods at foreign ports”. Trusted Traders may potentially have access to benefits such as:

  • enhanced client service through the provision of a dedicated point of contact;
  • fewer examinations and priority service;
  • priority consideration of trade advice rulings and applications;
  • deferral of customs duty;
  • streamlined reporting arrangements; and
  • recognition as a Trusted Trader by customs agencies in other countries (with which Australia has Mutual Recognition Arrangements).

How to become a Trusted Trader

The ATT Program will have three tiers of certification, reflecting different levels of risk associated with different businesses, goods and trade routes. Broadly, to become a Trusted Trader, a business needs to show that it can demonstrate compliance with requirements relating to supply chain security and a history of trade compliance. Such requirements may include specific standards in the areas of personnel security, information security, physical security and conveyance security.

The accreditation process for becoming a Trusted Trader involves the following steps:

  1. Submit an Expression of Interest form to register your business’ interest in participating in the ATT Program. The Expression of Interest will allow the Department to undertake a preliminary assessment of the business’ eligibility to participate in the ATT Program.
  2. Complete a Self-Assessment Questionnaire, which involves answering questions about how the business meets the supply chain security and trade compliance criteria of the ATT Program.
  3. If the Department is satisfied that the business meets the qualification criteria, an agreement will be entered into with the business, granting interim (tier 1) status as a Trusted Trader to the business.
  4. The Department will undertake a physical inspection and audit of a business’ compliance with supply chain security and trade compliance standards that the business specified in their Self-Assessment Questionnaire.
  5. If the Department is satisfied that the business meets the supply chain security and trade compliance standards of the ATT Program, the agreement will be varied and the business will receive ongoing status as a Trusted Trader.
  6. As part of a business’ ongoing status in the ATT Program, the business will be subject to ongoing monitoring and will be required to undergo periodic validation against the qualification criteria. The business will also have a continuing obligation to notify the Department of any changes that may affect their status as a Trusted Trader and any supply chain security or trade compliance incidents or irregularities.

Expressions of Interest forms will become available on 1 July 2016. However, if you are interested in becoming a Trusted Trader in 2016, it is important that you take steps now to ensure that you will satisfy the eligibility criteria. A number of questions in the Self-Assessment Questionnaire relate to supply chain security and trade compliance history over the previous two years.