13 Sep e-Customs Exporters Newsletter – September 2017
Australian Dollar soaring, Amazon Australia launching, GST on imports delayed, and relief for coal exporters.
Amazon Australia could launch this year.
Retailers in Australia have been anticipating the arrival of Amazon Australia since April, but it now appears the US e-commerce giant is poised to launch as early as next month, giving it time to exploit the pre-Christmas sales boom.
That is according to new analysis from investment bank Citi in a note to clients, which said Amazon Australia has already placed its first orders with suppliers.The arrival of Amazon to Australia is likely to have a big impact on other online retailers and if they are not competitive they could perish, according to retail experts.
The giant online retailer is set to take a $12 billion share of Australia’s retail trade over the next decade. Amazon Australia is expected to target the gift market initially, the analysts said, and the retail sectors most likely to feel its impact are food, alcohol, furniture, hardware and auto.
The US retail giant is then expected to turn its attention to electronics, department stores, leisure, clothing and footwear. Amazon confirmed in April that it was coming to Australia after buying a former Bunnings warehouse in Melbourne and announcing German executive Rocco Braeuniger as country manager. Analysts said the retailer was expected to maintain its strategy of matching or offering the lowest price in the market, believing that if Amazon does launch during the Christmas shopping period a number of retailers including JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Myer will feel the pinch.
Overturned loans ban offers lifeline to coal exporters.
A ban on government-backed loans for onshore coal and resource exports will be overturned in the “national interest” to help fund billions of dollars in projects that are threatened by the growing reluctance of the major banks to back them.
Trade Minister Steve Ciobo will issue a direction this week to Australia’s export credit agency to broaden its mandate and extend loans to viable small-to-medium sized onshore resource ventures including coal projects and related infrastructure struggling to secure private-market finance.
Mr Ciobo said the decision was made in response to bullying of the retails banks by protesters and green shareholder activism that he claimed was damaging the country’s export potential. The reversal of a ban applied in 2014 on funding for onshore resource projects through the government’s Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (Efic) was urgently needed to fill a growing “market gap”, Mr Ciobo said.
The ANZ bank last week declared it was unlikely to finance a proposal to extend the life of AGL’s Liddell coal-fired power station in NSW on environmental grounds despite the warnings from the energy regulator that an energy price and supply crisis was looming due to the lack of reliable baseload power.
But Mr Ciobo said the problem was becoming more acute in Australia for otherwise viable onshore resource export projects, in particular coal ventures that face hostile campaigning from the green lobby and left-wing activist groups such as GetUp!, which threatened the Adani coalmine in Queensland.
Efic has reported an increasing number of resource projects facing difficulties in obtaining private-market finance either because of a higher commercial risk profile in the post-mining boom environment but also due to the recent rise in aggressive campaigning by activist groups putting pressure on the banks.
Mr Ciobo said that while Efic was still required to make assessments on the commercial viability of projects, the lifting of the ban for onshore resource projects would open new sources of finance to fuel a potential mini-boom in small-to-medium-sized projects.
Simon Benson, The Australian.
GST on imports worth less $1000 delayed.
A proposed GST amendment which will see GST extended to all goods bought overseas, has been delayed for another year. Parliament on Monday voted in favour of delaying the introduction of Treasury Laws Amendment (GST Low Value Goods) Bill 2017 until July 1, 2018.
The government agreed to implement the tax in last year’s budget, claiming the move would level the playing field for small businesses and generate an extra $300 million in revenue over four years. The GST changes to online goods were originally to be implemented this year, however, an amendment pushed through by Labor has given Australian shoppers a 12-month reprieve.
The delay is a win for international online giants but has angered local retailers, who believe they are being put at a disadvantage. Gerry Harvey, chairman of Harvey Norman, argued the change was the result of clever lobbying by overseas internet retailers, who talked Australian politicians into delaying the change.
“If a product is $100 or $1000 in a shop in Australia you put 10 per cent GST on it. If the product is the same price and is imported from overseas you don’t put any GST on it. So, it’s just a subsidy straight away to an offshore retailer. How anyone can say that’s a good idea is beyond me” he said.
For the most part, the tax will be collected via the international seller. However, the government has outlined scenarios where the tax will be the responsibility of the operator. Needless to say, there’s still a lot of confusion about precisely how the tax will be collected.
$50m funding for wine exports and regional tourism.
The Federal Government has popped the cork on a new $50 million initiative to bolster Australia’s wine exports and tourism.
The Export and Regional Wine Support aims to boost wine exports to a record $3.5 billion, including significant investment in marketing product to the US and China over the next three years.
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, announced the funding at Penfolds Magill Estate in Adelaide today.
Mr Joyce said the package was part of a suite of measures to reform the Wine Equalisation Tax rebate scheme, after what had been a tough decade for the Australian wine industry.
“When the Coalition came to government, the wine industry through the whole agricultural portfolio was one that was really doing it tough,” he said.
“But we went to work hard, working with the industry to make sure we drive new free trade agreements and those free trade agreements are now paying off with massive increases to places such as China.
“We also continue to build on our sales into places like the United Kingdom, United States, Japan, Korea, the Middle East and how that’s been reflected is the best wine prices since 2008.”
Mr Joyce said the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement had been particularly successful, with exports to China increasing from $364 million in 2015 to $516 million in 2016.
He said the initiative aimed to grow all export markets by 8 per cent by 2022.
Wine Australia CEO, Andreas Clark, said the program offered a big boost to an industry rebounding from years in decline.
“It is a very exciting day for Australia’s wine and tourism industry,” he said.
“We are seeing some great growth opportunities in those markets over the next few years, so we really want to focus this additional money in targeting those opportunities.
“We are in a pretty good place overall after what has been a tough decade or so.”
The plan has a focus on growing exports in China and the United States, aiming to increase exports in these markets up to 17 and 6 per cent respectively, with grants to be made available for exporters marketing to these countries.