ABF Goods Compliance Update

ABF Goods Compliance Update - commentary supplied by Andrew Hudson, Partner Rigby Cooke Lawyers

On 12 October 2017, the ABF released the September 2017 edition of the ABF’s Goods Compliance Update (Update).

Ever since the publication of the Update was reinstated by the ABF it has become a vital tool in the engagement and communication strategy of the ABF bringing useful information of direct relevance to all of those in the supply chain who deal with the ABF. 

The Update is the first edition since Erin Dale, as the former Commander of Customs Compliance at the ABF has been seconded to a role in the DHA Implementation Task Force and the Update is now under the control of Stephen Hledik who is the Acting Commander of Customs Compliance at the ABF.  Stephen chairs the Compliance Advisory Group of the NCTF attended by the CBFCA and other industry associations as well as those who work with the CBFCA.  This has led to some changes to the format and content of the Update which includes more colour, more photos and graphs showing the movement in recorded activities over time which is especially important is demonstrating the trends in compliance for various obligations.

The whole Update is well worth a close read and should be sent to those with whom you deal in the supply chain including overseas agents, clients, employees, contractors and those who provide services to you.  Each of those parties face liability to the ABF and have an impact on your liability and that of your business.

To the extent that the information in the Update could be considered as “highlights” the following highlights are worth special consideration

The Update includes some information on the recent Industry Summit including the new Trade Modernisation agenda 
There is an announcement regarding completion of MRAs with Korea, Canada and HK which will allow those in the ATTP to secure some benefits in those countries, although details have not been provided
There is a cautionary take where an LCB did not tell a client of a TA which included an adverse outcome requiring changes to past FIDs and payment of duty and GST.  The importer was the subject of an audit and advised of the TA which lead to the LCB being responsible for a penalty under section 243T and was referred to NCBLAC
Summary information is provided on lodging drawback claims, FTA consignment rules and seizures of tobacco
There is extensive information on the presence of deficient information in cargo reports and the trend over time.

However, probably the most important information is the results of the compliance programs for the 2016/17 year including details of INs issued for various offences (and value).  The highest by number and value was for offences under section 33 (6) where 191 notices lead to penalties of $1,519,650 and section 243T where 63 notices lead to penalties of $1,147,898.56.  Most duty was recovered from post - transaction verification slightly ahead of the amount paid under voluntary disclosure.  This suggests that the strict liability regime complemented by voluntary disclosure has been successful in its aims.  There was an error rate of 28.4% in import reporting over the 2016/17 financial year and 39.9% in export reporting although there is also a graph showing a reduction in the percentage of errors in export reporting.

Following requests from industry we would expect to receive details on all these items for the 2017/18 year up to the date of the next Update.  We would also be likely to receive a further level of information on INs so that the numbers relating to errors in the dumping and countervailing fields and the errors in claiming FTAs to be provided along with the quantum of duties underpaid.

I will be addressing the Update in my member forums in November but can also encourage you to review the Update carefully so that you are aware of the focus of the ABF and likely areas of compliance action.