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Wednesday, 23 March 2011
Page: 2865

Mr BRENDAN O’CONNOR (Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for Justice and Minister for Privacy and Freedom of Information) (9:31 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Customs Tariff Amendment (2012 Harmonized System Changes) Bill 2011 contains approximately 800 amendments to the Customs Tariff Act 1995.

These amendments implement changes resulting from the World Customs Organization fourth review of the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, commonly referred to as the Harmonized System.

Australia is a signatory to the Harmonized System and since 1988, the Harmonized System has formed the basis of Australia’s commodity classifications for traded goods, both imports and exports.

The Harmonized System is a hierarchical system that uniquely identifies all traded goods and commodities. Over 200 countries use the Harmonized System.

Australia has implemented the Harmonized System domestically through the Customs Tariff Act 1995 for imports and the Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification for exports.

As a signatory to the Harmonized System, Australia is required to implement the changes resulting from the fourth review on 1 January 2012.

The amendments concentrate on environmental and social issues that are of global concern, including the use of the Harmonized System for identifying goods that are of importance to the food security program of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations such as certain fish species and products.

The Harmonized System changes will create new subheadings for specific chemicals. These include pesticides such as tributyltin compounds and ozone-depleting substances such as halogenated derivatives of hydrocarbons. This will facilitate the monitoring and control of international trade in these products under the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

The bill will clarify texts to ensure the uniform application of the Harmonized System.

The Customs Tariff Amendment (2012 Harmonized System Changes and Other Measures) Bill 2011 will also amend Schedules 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the Customs Tariff Act 1995.

These schedules give effect to the application of customs duty on imported goods in accordance with Australia’s bilateral free trade agreements with the United States, Thailand and Chile and Australia’s regional agreement with ASEAN and New Zealand.

The bill will also preserve existing levels of industry protection and margins of tariff preference that apply to imported goods, including goods imported under the free trade agreements.

This bill will provide certainty for Australia’s importers and exporters and ensures that Australia classifies its goods and commodities in accordance with the Harmonized System and in a manner that is consistent with its major trading partners.

Debate (on motion by Mr Andrews) adjourned.