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Subsidy Reduction Law Introduced

11 December 2001

New legislation has been introduced today setting the framework for the subsidy on commercial imports to be reduced by $16 (plus GST) from 1 July next year.

The initiative was announced in November. Acting Customs Minister Jim Anderton says it means those who benefit from Customs’ state of the art clearance process will foot the bill.

“Until now, the Government has subsidised importers by picking up the full cost of providing a business-friendly computer-based entry system. The practice is out of step with major trading partners, Australia and the United States.

“The government will continue to fund public good activities, such as detecting prohibited imports like drugs, pornography or counterfeit items.

“The past 10 years has seen a revolution in the service importers receive at our borders. Paperwork that once took days is now handled in an average of 12 minutes. Ninety-seven percent of imports are handled online and the majority of goods can be cleared before they arrive at New Zealand’s borders,” Jim Anderton said.

New Zealand importers will pay significantly less per transaction than their Australian and United States counterparts.

Customs estimates that 95 percent of New Zealand’s 33,000 importers will pay less than $2000 a year.

The subsidy reduction applies to each commercial import entry and import declarations for goods that have a duty liability greater than $50. Private import declarations under the value of $1000 will not be charged.

The legislation will be referred to Parliament’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee following its first reading. Customs will also be consulting widely.


Background information: All about importing

New Zealand’s 30,000 importers bring goods worth around $32 billion across our borders each year. All of these imports are checked and cleared by the New Zealand Customs Service.

The process is simple. Importers or their brokers lodge an import entry with Customs, either in paper or electronic form, which clarifies what is being imported, by whom, its origin and value.

Using these details, Customs confirms that the goods are safe and legal and that the importer holds any permits required by other agencies, such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry or the Ministry of Health. Customs then calculates duty owing on the consignment, charges the importer and releases the goods at the wharf or airport. Customs’ computer-based import system can even send clearances to the importer’s freight carrier before the goods reach the border.

Who can import?

Anyone can import goods provided they comply with the import entry process. Private imports must be checked in the same way as commercial. Customs has dedicated client services staff whose focus is guiding newcomers through the process. Help is also available via a free call centre (Tel: 0800 428 786), and staff at the public counter in any Customs office are also available for immediate personal assistance.

All imports are subject to GST and some may also attract other duties.

What imports are stopped?

Many items are stopped at the border because the Government has determined that they are inappropriate for New Zealand society. Reasons can be social, economic, international or safety-based and examples include counterfeit money, asbestos, weaponry, pornography and pirated goods.

In some cases, the goods are deemed potentially unsafe or inappropriate and may be cleared provided certain requirements are met (such as authentication from the country of origin). Other completely prohibited goods are confiscated for destruction and the importer may face criminal charges.

Ends

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