There has been movement on a couple of different fronts which will deliver reductions in duty.

Commencement of KAFTA

Over time I have provided updates on the progress of the Korea – Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) including summaries of the KAFTA and the implications for industry in various CBFCA CPD presentations. More recently I have been involved with submissions to the JSCOT review of KAFTA and 2 separate Senate Inquiries into the KAFTA, which also included appearing before a Hearing of one of those Inquiries.

As many of you would be aware, once any FTA has been entered into it must be implemented domestically by the parties to the FTA. In Australia this includes passing enabling legislation to amend the Customs Act and the Customs Tariff Act to include the rules of origin, the procedures to claim preferential status as well as the new duty rates.

The relevant Bills to amend the Customs Acts were introduced in September of this year and subsequently passed through the Inquiries and both Houses of Parliament. The Bills received Royal Assent on 21 October 2014 with commencement to be on 1 December 2014 or the day on which the FTA comes into force in Australia. That will occur 30 days after both countries have passed all their domestic legislation and exchanged Diplomatic Notes confirming that all domestic requirements have been observed. However, conceivably, the countries could agree on a shorter period than 30 days to trigger commencement.

The commencement date is important as should it be in 2014 then there will be a reduction in duties in 2014 as well as on 1 January 2015. Indeed, some importers have started considering how to handle their supply chains and defer imports hoping commencement before the end of 2014. 

Also of interest is that Austrade and DFAT have now announced sessions as to opportunities under the KAFTA with details here.

Reduction of TCF duty rates for clothing and finished textiles as of 1 January 2015

Just in case this issue has not appeared on your radar yet, there is a significant reduction of duty rates on clothing and finished textiles to take effect on 1 January 2015.

The reduction is part of the general industry program on reduction of tariffs on TCF goods following the 2003 Review of TCF assistance by the Productivity Commission. On 1 January 2010, the general rate of customs duty applicable to TCF goods except for clothing and finished textiles was reduced on 1 January 2010. The general rate of customs duty for clothing and finished textiles is now to be reduced to 5% from 1 January 2015.

Those importing these goods should review the Customs website which identifies the tariff classifications of the goods where the duty will be reduced to 5% as of 1 January 2015.

Revisions on securities for imports of deeply drawn stainless steel sinks

As many of you would also be aware there are provisional securities in place on imports of deeply drawn stainless steel sinks as part of an ongoing dumping and countervailing Investigation. 

By way of a notice from the ADC this morning, the levels of securities have now been revised following re – assessment of anticipated margins in relation to the three "main" exporters. Those new margins have a flow – on effect on other exports also subject to the securities based on the ADC's sampling exercise which depends on the margins for those main exporters.

The new measures apply to goods entered for home consumption as of today (24 October 2014). The securities will need to be adjusted accordingly. The SEF for the Investigation has been extended until January 2015 and we have yet to hear on any assessment of additional margins based on the countervailing part of the Investigation which has yet to be published.As always I would be delighted to assist on these and other developments.