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5368.0.55.019 - Information Paper: Amendments to Schedule 4 of Customs Tariff, Mar 2013  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/03/2013  First Issue
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INTRODUCTION


This paper provides information regarding changes to Schedule 4 of the Customs Tariff Act 1995 (the Customs Tariff). The paper provides a brief background to Schedule 4 and the changes. It provides correspondences from the concessional item numbers (items), treatment codes and reference numbers/statistical codes closing to those opening. It also explains the timing of the changes as they impact the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) perspectives.


BACKGROUND

Schedule 4 lists items covering goods and user categories in respect of which concessional rates of import duty have been granted. Schedule 4 delivers a range of policy objectives, including industry assistance and the implementation of tariff concessions arising from international treaties.

In 2010 a review of Schedule 4 was initiated to simplify the existing tariff concession regime. This review focussed on removing unnecessary complexity from Schedule 4 by simplifying existing arrangements and removing obsolete items. The recommendations were incorporated in the Customs Tariff Amendment (Schedule 4) Bill 2012. This Bill received the Royal Assent on 25 September 2012 as Act No. 138 of 2012 (the Schedule 4 Act) and commenced on 1 March 2013. Changes to the texts of items 20, 21, 27, 30 and 35 were made through the tabling of Customs Tariff Proposal (No. 1) 2013 in the House of Representatives on 14 February 2013, with effect on 1 March 2013. For more information on these changes and the implementation see Australian Customs and Border Protection Notice 2012/55: Implementation of the Customs Tariff Amendment (Schedule 4) Act 2012 and Australian Customs and Border Protection Notice 2013/07: Implementation of the Customs Tariff Amendment (Schedule 4) Act 2012 Arrangements for Customs By–laws and Other Instruments.

Each item contains reference numbers/statistical codes (also called Harmonized Tariff Item Statistical Codes (HTISCs) in ABS output) and/or treatment codes which are used on customs declarations where importers of goods are claiming concessional rates of import duty. Reference numbers/statistical codes and treatment codes are included in ABS Import Clearances output. The ABS also makes use of this information to distinguish between merchandise and non–merchandise trade.


CHANGES TO SCHEDULE 4

The changes to Schedule 4 reduce the number of items from 99 to 57. Most of the existing items were re–ordered and re–numbered and new treatment codes, reference numbers and statistical codes were created. Each item is categorised to its own descriptive item grouping. For example, item 1 which is applicable to scientific goods, instruments and apparatus, falls under the grouping of “Goods of a scientific, educational or cultural kind”. Although some of the new items have been re–worded for clarification, the scope of the concessions and the concessional duty rates have not changed.

Some items, such as those with an unnecessary overlapping of concessions, where the concession is redundant or rarely used or where the wording is unclear, have been removed from Schedule 4. Also, a number of previously end–dated Schedule 4 items listed in the Customs Tariff Working Pages and considered obsolete have been omitted from the updated pages.

Changes to Schedule 4 resulted in the closure of 30 existing reference number/statistical codes and the creation of 14 new reference number/statistical codes. Also, 61 treatment codes were closed and 49 new treatment codes were created. It should be noted that one treatment code, 462, moved from item 62 to item 55. The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service will provide further advice on this treatment code prior to 1 June 2013. Also, in Australian Customs and Border Protection Notice 2012/55: Implementation of the Customs Tariff Amendment (Schedule 4) Act 2012 it was announced that item 68 and treatment code 468 were closing and being replaced by item 31 and treatment code 731. Whilst the item will change from 68 to 31, the treatment code will remain as 468 until advised otherwise by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. An additional change made by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service since the changes were announced is that treatment code 415 will be closed on 31 March 2013 and will not be replaced. Item 15 and the existing reference number/statistical code 9999401541 will continue operation from this date.

The Supplementary Provisions to Schedule 4 have not been affected by these changes.

This link will take you to the updated Customs Tariff Working Pages reflecting the changes to Schedule 4, or they can be accessed from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service website at www.customs.gov.au and follow the prompts for tariff/working tariff current/New Schedule 4 (from 1 March 2013).


TIMING OF CHANGES AND ABS OUTPUT

For customs purposes the Schedule 4 Act provides that the amendments in the Schedule 4 Act will apply to goods imported into Australia on or after 1 March 2013 and also to goods imported before that date where the time for working out the rate of import duty on those goods had not yet occurred, including:

  • Goods imported before commencement, but not entered for home consumption until after commencement;
  • Goods imported and entered into bonded warehouse before commencement and not entered for home consumption until after commencement; and
  • Goods not required to be entered for home consumption, for example unaccompanied personal effects.

For ABS dissemination purposes the changes will be reflected with the release of March 2013 data. While the structure of ABS publications and time series tables will not be affected by the changes to Schedule 4, data provided at a detailed level will reflect the new reference number/statistical codes and treatment codes. Previously published series will not be recompiled using the new statistical and treatment codes.
CONFIDENTIALITY

There is no impact on the listing of confidential commodities as none of the codes affected by the changes to Schedule 4 currently have a confidentiality restriction. Confidentiality restrictions are advertised on the ABS website and updated monthly in the ABS publication: International Merchandise Trade: Confidential Commodities List (cat. no. 5372.0.55.001).


INFORMATION TABLES

Three tables accompany this information paper. These are available on the 'Downloads' tab and contain the following information:
  • Table 1. "Correspondences for March 2013 changes to Customs Tariff Schedule 4 Treatment Codes" shows the correspondences between items and treatment codes that are ceasing and those that are replacing them.
  • Table 2. "Correspondences for March 2013 changes to Customs Tariff Schedule 4 Items and Reference Number/Statistical Codes" shows the correspondences between items and reference number/statistical codes that are ceasing and those that are replacing them.
  • Table 3. "Free Standing Descriptors and Correspondences to Other Classifications for Treatment Codes and Reference Number/Statistical Codes with an operative date of 1 March 2013" shows Free Standing Descriptors (FSDs) for the new treatment codes. For the new reference number/statistical codes it shows their FSDs, correspondences to other classifications, merchandise flag and Unit of Quantity (UQ).

In these tables, and in this information paper, the term 'reference number/statistical codes' has been used to be consistent with the terminology used in Schedule 4 of the customs tariff. For detailed import data codes the ABS uses the terminology Harmonized Tariff Item Statistical Codes (HTISCs) which includes the Schedule 4 reference number/statistical codes.

Tables 1 and 2 can be used to identify where items, treatment codes or reference number/statistical codes have ceased operating and where goods which were previously classified to those codes should be classified from 1 March 2013. The information is presented in two sheets in each table called "FEB 2013 to MAR 2013" and "MAR 2013 to FEB 2013". Each table has five columns. In the "FEB 2013 to MAR 2013" table the first two columns detail the February 2013 treatment codes or reference number/statistical codes and the item to which they belong. The third and fourth columns show the March 2013 codes and items which replaced the February 2013 versions. The fifth column has relevant comments such as information on commodity recodes or if a February 2013 reference number/statistical code was replaced by a treatment code. This sheet is sorted in numeric order of the February 2013 treatment code. The "MAR 2013 to FEB 2013" sheet has the same information in the reverse order and is sorted in numeric order of the March 2013 item number.

Table 3 has two sheets, with the first sheet showing each of the treatment codes which became operative on 1 March 2013 and their FSD. The reference number/statistical code sheet shows each code which became operative on 1 March 2013 and their correspondences to the Standard International Trade Classification Revision 4 (SITC Rev 4), Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification, 2006 (ANZSIC 2006), Broad Economic Categories (BEC) and Balance of Payments Broad Economic Categories (BoPBEC); the Unit of quantity (UQ) and FSD. The FSDs on each sheet are constrained by the number of characters allowed in the field but they give a broad description of the meaning of the treatment code or the reference number/statistical code used on ABS output.


FURTHER INFORMATION

If you have any difficulties accessing the March 2013 changes to Schedule 4 of the Customs Tariff from the ABS website, or if you require further information about the changes, please write, email or telephone:

Classification and Confidentiality Manager
Balance of Payments and International Trade Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics
PO Box 10
BELCONNEN ACT 2616

Email: international.trade@abs.gov.au

Telephone: 02 6252 5409

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