➼ Supply Chains
➼ Trade & International Affairs
➼ ICC
➼ OECD
➼ Supply Chains
International Airfreight Assistance Mechanism

10 September

The Australian Government has appointed Mr Michael Byrne as the International Freight Co-ordinator General and Air Vice-Marshal Margaret Staib AM CSC as the Australian Government Freight Controller.

 

Eligibility for products supported by IFAM has shifted to being determined by a set of overarching principles rather than a list of commodities. That is products that are:

 

Australian made or produced, high-value, time sensitive, reliant on airfreight (for example, due to perishability) or otherwise deemed to be in the national interest. For example:

  • products that could not be sent by an alternative to airfreight without losing their essential product characteristics or value,
  • goods that have a limited shelf life or are required to meet a sudden or immediate need.

 

Full details of the revised eligibility is made available here.

 

If your members are still experiencing issues accessing IFAM and/or freight costs are still an issue, please contact Daniel Popovski.

 

Payment times Reporting Bill passes Senate with amendments  

4 September

The Payment Times Reporting (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2020, passed the senate on 3 September with minor amendments. The Bill establishes a Payment Times Reporting Scheme which requires businesses and government enterprises with an annual total income of over $100 million to biannually report on their payment terms and practices for their small business suppliers, with an annual turnover of up to $10 million. 

 

The added transparency and monitoring is aimed to reduce payment times of approximately 3,000 large businesses including foreign companies that carry on an enterprise in Australia. This is a welcome step towards incentivising faster payments while avoiding mandated legislation. The proposed failsafe mechanism proposed by Labor would have established powers for the regulator to force big businesses to pay their small business suppliers within 30 days or face hefty fines. 

 

An important feature of the framework is the small business identifier tool which simplifies the process for large businesses in identifying their small business suppliers. This is aimed to reduce the regulatory impost of reporting and in preventing preserve behaviour. The payment times reporting framework is a welcome step towards reduced payment times for small businesses in Australia and we’ll be closely monitoring its success.  

 

Supply Chain Disruptions

13 August

Container terminals around the country are in the midst of a coordinated industrial action plan that may impact supply chains.  Shipping Australia Ltd issued a media release last week and can be accessed here.

 

An investigation into a potential airfreight link to the latest outbreak in NZ is currently being investigated as 13 new cases are linked to a cold storage food processing facility. New Zealand health authorities are investigating whether the coronavirus was brought into the country with refrigerated goods with potential implications for airfreight. Prior to the outbreak, New Zealand had gone more than 100 days without recording a case of COVID.  

 

The QANTAS freight terminal in Melbourne also remains closed in response to advice from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Plans to return to more regular operations are currently being worked through, acting on advice from regulatory authorities and the QANTAS medical teams. The latest COVID information from QANTAS can be accessed here.

 
Transport Roundtable and Freight Protocol

30 July

Yesterday, ACCI hosted a land transport roundtable bringing together our member industry representatives, representatives from the Department of Industry, the Department of Infrastructure and Transport and Austrade to share current issues experienced by the sector and to discuss appropriate support and recovery activities. 

 

Last Friday National Cabinet considered and agreed to a Domestic Border Control Freight Movement Protocol to allow freight to move safely and efficiently across borders. Issues have emerged around the implementation of this by the jurisdictions and our transport members provided feedback on their experience of cross-border movement and critical areas for improvement. Other key areas flagged included: waiving of fees and levies for the industry, government communications and language, sales experience and JobKeeper eligibility, mask supply and appropriate distribution to the workforce.

 

Department representatives advised that they will raise these concerns during ongoing meetings of state and territory officials as well as across other Departments and agencies. Yesterday ACCI also engaged with the PM's office on the issue of road freight crossing borders and the application of different testing regimes by different states, despite the national cabinet announcement last week of a uniform protocol. 

 

The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER) has heard from businesses across the Australian economy about the challenges being faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These challenges understandably vary depending on the location and nature of restrictions in place to protect the health of all Australians. In some circumstances, businesses can implement measures to protect their staff and customers while operating in a COVID environment.

 

DISER wanted to identify some examples to share in short videos. These are now available to view (click below to watch) and may be of interest to your members.  

 

Wholesale Plants & Products (SA) 

 

Ben Furney Flour Mills – NSW  

 

All Industries Group – QLD  

 

DISER update on industry PPE

2 July

The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER), through the COVID Response Taskforce, is talking directly to businesses and peak bodies to understand their needs and experiences sourcing PPE. The department is using the insights and advice from these discussions, as well as other information, to advise the Government on trends and potential issues in the supply of PPE to industry. 

 

The department is facilitating access to PPE through connections and freight opportunities when it hears there is a need, and encouraging the appropriate use of PPE (not least to assist supply), with reference to Safe Work Australia’s COVID-safe workplace guidance. The department has also supported development of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre COVID-19 Manufacturing Response Register, the Register linking those sourcing products of critical need with Australian manufacturers and suppliers. The Government’s approach is to support market-led responses to PPE needs, and complement industry initiatives.  

 

In relation to PPE supplies, the department is monitoring the supply of masks and other products, including availability in leading retail outlets.  

 

The department is engaged with peak bodies including ACCI to build a better understanding of reported challenges for small business in sourcing PPE, including understanding the type of PPE in demand, whether it relates to business as usual WHS requirements, or a COVID response, and if the impact is in particular sectors.  

 

AUSTRADE International Freight Assistance Mechanism

18 June

AUSTRADE has published its weekly update on the international freight assistance mechanism available here New flights have been scheduled to Dubai, Narita and Singapore with flights extended to Auckland and Los Angeles. Senior Advisor, Economics and Industry Policy, Daniel Popovski is representing ACCI at the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources supply chain roundtable that is hosted every Friday afternoon. If your members are experiencing freight and other supply chain issues, please forward matters for escalation to Daniel Popovski.

 

Supply Chain Roundtables

12 June

ACCI continues to attend Minister Andrews' Supply Chain Roundtables each Friday. Key issues we raised include: 

  • PPE access issues for small business for non-medical workforce. 
  • New requirements and expectations on small businesses for PPE such as gloves, hand sanitizer and screens who would not have required PPE previously and don’t have established suppliers. 
  • The AMGC PPE response register is not a sufficient resolution to the problem faced by small business as it does not have the visibility and awareness of most small business operators. 
  • Small business operators are mostly going out to retail stores to purchase essential PPE. This is leading to broadscale cost escalation to normal business trading that is disproportionately affecting small business owners. Some are able to cost-recover while others are not. This situation is expected to get worse as more restrictions across the country are relaxed and more staff and commuters seek PPE. 
  • Small businesses are not in a position to bulk buy like large businesses and so there is a role for government to establish a map of eligible suppliers for businesses. 
  • PPE access will also become an issue for private hospitals when restrictions on elective surgeries are further relaxed. This may act to crowd out the market and further exacerbate the purchasing power issues that small businesses are currently facing. 

If you have an update on supply chain or PPE issues please contact Jen Low.  

 
Additional flights arranged through the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM)

12 May

There is capacity inbound from Auckland, Hong Kong, Tokyo (Narita) and Singapore in which medical supplies will be prioritised. We encourage you to please share this information with your members as soon as possible.  

 

Please see the Qantas flight schedule and Singapore Airlines schedule for flight numbers, days of operation, departure and arrival times. 

 

Members will need to work with their freight forwarders in order to access freight space. If members require additional assistance and suggestions of freight forwarders based with medical and market expertise, Austrade is able to provide this. ACCI will be updating the network regularly as new flight routes become available. We ask that you please share with your members promptly. 

 

For any further assistance or questions, please feel free to contact Daniel.popovski@australianchamber.com or bryan.clark@australianchamber.com.au or Austrade directly at airfreight@austrade.gov.au 

 

 

Tracking of COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures 

28 April

The International Trade Centre has published an online page to provide a global daily update of enacted COVID-19 trade measures. The objective of this initiative is to improve transparency in international trade and market access in line with the mission of Market Access Map. 

 

Governments are swiftly enacting temporary trade measures that aim to restrict exports of vital medical supplies and to liberalize imports of vital medical supplies. 

 

We urge users to take these measures into account when consulting market access information throughout Market Access Map.  

 

The COVID-19 dashboard is structured in three sections: 

  • a global map of all countries that have adopted export or import measures related to the pandemic 
  • a live tracker of measures adopted in the last 24 hours, updated at 18:00 (GMT+1) daily 
  • a detailed table documenting all countries and the corresponding measures, with the original government decrees provided in the national language 

The emergency measures apply on top of standard market access measures, such as customs tariffs, trade remedies, and non-tariff requirements, which are already accessible through Market Access Map databases at www.macmap.org . 

 

Freight and supply chain issues

17 April

The Government recently announced the $110 million International Freight Assistance Mechanism to help exporters get their high-quality produce into key overseas markets. Return flights will bring back items critical to the ongoing health response. This includes vital medical supplies, medicines and equipment.

 

Expressions of interest should be directed here

 

The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources is working with Austrade and other Australian Government departments to assist Australian importers and exporters in identifying available international air freight opportunities.  

 

To support Australian importers and exporters, Qantas and Virgin Australia are offering air freight capacity on repatriation international passenger services to and from Auckland, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and London, from Thursday 9 April 2020.

 

While these services are limited, this will give Australian producers a way to obtain valuable inputs for their businesses. The return flights to Australia will bring in vital medicines, medical supplies and equipment to support Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The confirmed international flights will operate for approximately 4 weeks. We are currently working with Government to extend and expand these flight options to more destinations.

 

For more information on the repatriation flights, visit Qantas or email freightsalessupport@qantas.com.au and Virgin Australia or email syd.cargosales@fly.virgin.com

 

In addition, 55 commercial freight-only flights have also been scheduled for April, totalling 540 services for this month. Austrade advise that the best way to access these flights is to utilise your standard freight operations channels, including your Freight Forwarder. The Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia Inc. (CBFCA) represents members interests in international trade logistics and supply chain management service provision.

 

You can refer to this link to help you find a freight forwarder.

 

The International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) also has a member directory that can be searched through this link. 

 

If you are unable to identify air freight opportunities through these channels, Austrade, have established a dedicated email address for international freight enquiries: Airfreight@austrade.gov.au.

 

 For information on the Australian Government’s International Freight Assistance Mechanism to back Australia’s agriculture and seafood export sectors, visit: https://haveyoursay.agriculture.gov.au/international-freight-assistance

 

For any further information please contact the Transport and Freight Taskforce.

➼ Trade & International Affairs
ICC supporting WHO campaign and coalition to provide access to COVID resources 
1 October

 

ICC is advocating for governments to give greater political and financial support to the “Access to Covid Tools Accelerator” (ACT-A) – an initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) and a broad coalition of partners that aims to reduce the severity of the disease globally and thereby reduce pressure on hospital systems, the need for extreme physical distancing and the broader health, social and economic disruption. 

 

ICC have formed the view that ACT-A represents the best hope for an end to the acute phase of the pandemic (by end 2021) and the most realistic route to a quick global economic recovery, which is plainly in the interests of business everywhere. 

 

John Denton, ICC Secretary General has recently accepted an invitation from the Director-General of the WHO and the President of the European Commission to join the ACT-A Facilitation Council composed of around 30 Heads of Government and Ministers representing all regions and market shapers.  

 

The campaign will focus on all elements of ACT-A – therapeutics, diagnostics and vaccines – but will have an emphasis on vaccine cooperation.

 
Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry with the support of ICC’s World Chambers Federation (WCF) has released a report on the preparedness of chambers of commerce to adapt their services in the face of COVID-19. 

 

The research summarised in this report sits as part of the 2021 Strategy Road Map laid out by the International Chamber of Commerce’s World Chambers Federation (ICC WCF). 

 

The Road Map highlights a number of key priorities for the WCF. These include greater alignment with the ICC, strengthening the brand of the WCF and chambers of commerce globally, and promoting better networking, knowledge sharing and innovation between chambers. 

 

To address these priorities, the WCF outlined four initiatives on alignment, chamber’s brands, “Chamber 4.0”, and Chamber Connect. This report sits within the last of those, Chamber Connect, focused on improving global chambers collaboration and networking by creating and improving existing digital and physical platforms.” Download the report. 

 

Quick Restart Guide for Employers
8 September

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) have published a set of recommendations for safely re-opening customer facing businesses in the age of COVID-19.

 

Click here to download the guide

 

ICC-IOM Guidance on the Protection for Migrant Workers during COVID-19 
13 August

To help companies take adapted measures to address the specific challenges of migrant workers, ICC and IOM have published the attached ICC-IOM Guidance on the Protection for Migrant Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic. This includes general principles as well as specific recommendations relating to physical and mental health, living and working conditions, economic support, ethical recruitment, and supply chain transparency commitments. The guidance is adapted from IOM’s more detailed COVID-19 guidance for employers and business to enhance migrant worker protection during the current health crisis and complements the ICC/UNICEF Guide to Family-friendly Business Continuity. The ICC web release on the publication of the guidance can be found here.  

video on the need to support migrant workers was also released last week on the Save our SMEs website, on which the guidance is also available.  

 
Tariff concessions extended to Dec 31
30 July

The Government will extend the duty concession on imports of certain medical and hygiene products for use in combatting COVID-19 until 31 December 2020. The duty concession is currently provided by Item 57 in the 4th schedule of the Customs Tariff Act 1995 and By-law no. 2019608. The extension to the duty concession will be via a new Item (Item 57A) and a new By-law to operate from 1 August 2020.   

 

Details to enable imports to use the new concession (treatment code and instrument number) will be published on the ABF website via an Australian Customs Notice (ACN 2020/30). We expect this to happen before Friday.  Any questions on the extension can be sent to tradepolicy1@abf.gov.au

 

ICC and UNICEF call for greater public-private sector collaboration
30 July

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and UNICEF have today (July 27) issued a call for enhanced cooperation between the public and private sectors to strengthen the response to COVID-19 and enable a resilient and sustainable rebuild from the pandemic. 

 

The call to action responds to growing concerns about the accelerated spread of the virus in several regions and the economic fallout from the pandemic – which, absent of effective interventions, is expected to lead to widespread business foreclosures and an estimated 86 million children falling into poverty this year. 

 

The recommendations include:  

  • a call for the immediate elimination of tariff and export curbs on all goods required to mitigate the spread of the pandemic. 
  • opportunities for greater public-private sector collaboration. 

 To read the full call to action, please visit iccwbo.org/reimagining-the-world-we-need

 
ICC and UNICEF call for greater public-private sector collaboration in response to COVID-19
27 July

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and UNICEF have today issued a call for enhanced cooperation between the public and private sectors to strengthen the response to COVID-19 and enable a resilient and sustainable rebuild from the pandemic.

 

Entitled “Reimagining the World We Need,” the joint statement leverages the organizations’ respective expertise in the fields of business and children’s rights to set out a common vision to address the economic, health, and societal consequences of COVID-19. To this end, ICC and UNICEF have identified eight concrete areas where enhanced public-private collaboration can ensure a fairer, healthier, and more prosperous world for all.

 

The call to action responds to growing concerns about the accelerated spread of the virus in several regions and the economic fallout from the pandemic – which, absent of effective interventions, is expected to lead to widespread business foreclosures and an estimated 86 million children falling into poverty this year.

 

To read the full call to action, please visit: iccwbo.org/reimagining-the-world-we-need.

 

 
Trade-related Federal Government support and advice available to help Australian business take advantage of free trade agreements

22 July

 

The following snapshot includes information on the range of trade-related Federal Government support and advice available to help Australian business take advantage of free trade agreements. 

 

  • TradeStart is a network of specialist export advisers located across the nation providing support and advice to Australian businesses. For more information, refer to: https://www.austrade.gov.au/Australian/How-Austrade-can-help/Trade-services/TradeStart
  • Austrade helps connects Australian businesses to the world and the world to Australian businesses. Austrade’s experts in Australia and abroad collaborate to provide the best ‘in-country’ advice to businesses. For more information, refer to: https://www.austrade.gov.au.
  • The Export Market Development Grants scheme provides financial assistance for aspiring and current exporters. For more information, refer to: https://www.austrade.gov.au/Australian/Export/Export-Grants.
  • The Free Trade Agreement Digital Seminar Series is being held to raise Australian businesses awareness and use of free trade agreements. For more information and recordings of past webcasts, refer to: https://www.austrade.gov.au/Australian/Export/Free-Trade-Agreements/seminars.
  • The FTA Portal provides easy-to-access information on exporting and importing goods and services using Australia’s network of free trade agreements. For more information, refer to: https://www.ftaportal.dfat.gov.au. For information on Australia’s free trade agreements, including those under negotiation, refer to: fta.gov.au.
  • Collaboration between government and industry stakeholders is underway to remove non-tariff barriers faced by Australian businesses in overseas in overseas markets. For more information, refer to: https://www.tradebarriers.gov.au/
  • AusIndustry, through an extensive outreach network of Regional Managers and Entrepreneurs’ Programme Facilitators, works directly with businesses to provide targeted advice and support to help them grow and succeed. This outreach network connects businesses to relevant grants and other support, including in relation to COVID-19.  For more information, refer to: https://www.business.gov.au/
  • Export Finance Australia is the government’s export credit agency. It provides financial solutions for export-related businesses through loans, guarantees and bonds. For more information, refer to: https://www.exportfinance.gov.au
  • Australian Trusted Trader program reduces ‘red tape’ for accredited Trusted Trader businesses at the border and expedites the flow of their cargo in and out of Australia. For more information, refer to: https://www.abf.gov.au/about-us/what-we-do/trustedtrader
  • The Manual of Importing Country Requirements website sets out the requirements that exporters must meet for products and commodities to be accepted for import into other countries. For more information, refer to: https://micor.agriculture.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx
 
#SOS – Save Our SMEs Campaign

18 June

As COVID-19 continues to threaten lives and livelihoods, some of the most severe economic impacts are being felt by micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises and their workforces, in both developed and developing economies. To support the International Chamber of Commerce #SOS – Save Our SMEs Campaign – ICC has decided to offer a range of its essential business resources for free or at discounted rates for a one-month period. ICC has a selection of dedicated tools to help small businesses thrive in the face of the worst health and economic challenges of our time.

 

Click here to view the range of products

 

 

OECD report on financial distress to avoid insolvency during the COVID-19 Crisis 

5 June

The OECD has issued a policy brief on supporting business in financial distress to avoid insolvency during the COVID-19 crisis. The policy brief provides an overview of measures national authorities have adopted to avoid insolvency during the COVID-19 crisis  to bridge the financing gap for the corporate sector and to ensure that productive capacity is maintained. This includes adjusting the insolvency framework, providing indirect state support that reduces immediate cash outflows and keeping capital markets open. 

 

National Corporate Governance Initiatives during the COVID-19 Crisis 

OECD has now published the overview of initiatives related to national corporate governance during the COVID-19 crisis, which is available on the website indicated below. The document provides a factual overview of certain corporate governance and capital markets-related measures that 37 jurisdictions have taken in response to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. 

 

Download the note “National corporate governance related initiatives during the Covid-19 crisis” 

 

This paper is based on a survey focused on three main areas of regulation relevant to the implementation of the G20/OECD Principles of Corporate Governance where COVID-19-related adjustments have been common: 

  1. Conduct of annual general meetings; 

  2. Frameworks for insolvency; and 

  3. Disclosure requirements. 

Please also find the paper ACCI contributed to available here: Business at OECD (BIAC) paper on corporate governance in the COVID-19 response 

 

ICC and WHO launch worldwide business survey to improve COVID-19 information flows 

22 May

In response to COVID-19, ICC and WHO are surveying the private sector to gather more information about global business responses and develop solutions that will address the spread of the pandemic. The ICC-WHO survey will improve information flows between different sectors of the global economy and develop a framework for managing the economic and human consequences related to the pandemic’s spread.  

 

The survey is the latest step in ICC and WHO’s unique collaboration to provide reliable COVID-19-related information to the private sector and develop trusted guidance for business communities around the world. As part of an initial joint statement, ICC and WHO called upon national governments to adopt a ‘whole-of-society’ approach in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

The ICC-WHO survey is designed to only take a few minutes and can be found here.   

 

Read ICC and WHO’s joint statement to mobilise business leaders to respond to COVID-19. 

 
AusNCP releases OECD Guidelines checklist for Covid-19 

12 May

The Australian National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises is currently monitoring the progress of COVID-19 and how this impacts our daily business. Businesses are encouraged to utilise our new OECD Guidelines summary checklist as a tool to support high-quality decisions during this period of social and economic change.

 
Free trade essential to global standards of living 

5 May

Download the joint statement from the Trade ministers from Australia, NZ, Singapore and the UK, published April 28. 

 

Download the Statement

 

AUSTRADE webinar recording – regulatory update – PPE and medical product export requirements in China 

For those who have an interest in exporting PPE and medical products from China, there have been some recent changes to the regulatory settings you should be aware of. 

 

The webinar is also an opportunity to hear from the Australian Government representatives in China, as well as the latest information about Australia’s import regulations and processes. Watch the webinar.

 

For all the latest information to help Australian businesses overcome complex and fast-evolving COVID-19 challenges – visit www.austrade.gov.au/news/news/novel-coronavirus

 

Tariff relief 

The Australian Border Force (ABF) has announced a temporary elimination of customs duties on certain imported medical and hygiene products essential to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic through a new item in the 4th Schedule to Customs Tariff Act 1995.  

 

Details of the new Item (concessional item 57) are in Australian Customs Notice (ACN) 2020/20 which gives guidance on claiming the concession and the scope of goods covered by the related by-law. 

 

ACN 2020/20 including the tariff working pages for the item and the by-law is at https://www.abf.gov.au/help-and-support-subsite/CustomsNotices/2020-20.pdf 

 

Concessional Item 57 has been designed to be as broad as possible to ensure the majority of goods required to respond to the current COVID‑19 pandemic can be imported free of customs duty.   

 

The non-exhaustive list of tariff classifications, provided in ACN 2020/20, is to help identify prescribed goods. Some goods classified to these subheadings will not be eligible, as they do not satisfy the criteria of Item 57 and the by-law. Equally, there may be other goods classified to subheadings not listed that will be eligible for concessional treatment under Item 57.   

 

All importers must be able to provide a justification that the goods claimed under Item 57 meet the criteria specified in the item and prescribed by-law, if requested to do so by the ABF. 

 

Any questions on using the new customs duty concession can be directed to tradepolicy1@abf.gov.au 

 

 

International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) webinars 

There are two International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) webinar recordings available for viewing: 

  • 24 April 2020 – IFAM Briefing session for exporters 
    Tim Beresford, Deputy CEO Austrade and Michael Byrne, the IFAM Co-Ordinator General held an information session for exporters. The session covered the aim and objectives of IFAM, how it works and provided answers to questions submitted by participants. Listen to briefing 

  • 28 April 2020 – IFAM Briefing session for Freight Forwarders 
    Tim Beresford, Deputy CEO Austrade and Michael Byrne, the IFAM Co-Ordinator General held an information session for Freight Forwarders. The session covered the aim and objectives of IFAM, how the IFAM panel of providers was established and how all Freight Forwarders can support exporters under the mechanism. The briefing also answered questions submitted by participants.  Listen to briefing 

Note the briefing commences around 9 mins into the recording.  

For more information on IFAM and where these and future webinars may be posted, visit: https://www.austrade.gov.au/news/news/international-freight-assistance-mechanism.

 
Update - Foreign Investment Review Board operations under COVID-19

24 April

On Sunday 29 March 2020, the Treasurer announced two temporary changes to Australia’s foreign investment framework: all proposed foreign investments subject to the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 (the Act) would require approval, regardless of value; and to ensure sufficient time for screening applications, the FIRB would work with existing and new applicants to extend timeframes for reviewing applications from 30 days to up to six months. 

 

Australia continues to welcome and be open to foreign investment. Foreign investment will play a critical role in Australia’s recovery from this crisis – just as it has been critical to our long-term prosperity. 

 

FIRB has Q&As posted on the FIRB website. More will be addressed through an imminent update to the website’s guidance notes. 

 

To deal with the expected substantial increase in applications, FIRB are triaging cases using a risk-based approach and have brought on additional staff to manage the workload.  

 

Finally, many investments that did not previously require screening now do. It is the responsibility of investors to understand how and if the framework applies to them, and to comply with it. If unsure, foreign investors should seek legal advice.  

 

Further information about the foreign investment framework, including these temporary measures, is available on the FIRB website. If investors or their advisers have further questions, they should not hesitate to contact FIRB by calling +61 2 6263 3795 or emailing firbenquiries@treasury.gov.au.  

 
Financial support to help Australian exporters bounce back

15 April

Australian exporters impacted by the COVID-19 crisis will now have access to business-saving loans between $250,000 and $50 million under a new $500 million capital facility to be administered by Export Finance Australia.  

 

The new COVID-19 Export Capital Facility will target loans to established and previously profitable exporters who, due to COVID-19, are unable to gain finance from commercial sources. 

 

In addition to the COVID-19 Export Capital Facility, Export Finance Australia will also provide assistance to its existing customers through access to credit and financial relief. 

 

For more information on Export Finance Australia, including how to apply for finance, visit the website or read the fact sheet below.

 

COVID-19 Export Capital Facility Factsheet

 
Exporter support package

3 April

Announced by Government: Earlier today, we announced that we are backing Australia’s agricultural, fisheries and tourism exporters through a $170 million support package. 

 

With worldwide travel restrictions and reductions in air passenger movements, the availability of air freight capacity to and from Australia has significantly reduced. 

 

We need to re-establish supply chains for our exporters and keep freight routes open which is crucial to getting our export sector back on its feet; helping to reduce job losses and support our economic recovery.

 

The package includes a $110 million initiative to help get high-quality produce into key overseas markets through the facilitation of freight flights, with return flights to bring back vital medical supplies, medicines and equipment. 

 

We are also injecting an extra $49.8 million into the Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) program in the 2019-20 financial year to allow exporters and tourism businesses to get additional reimbursements for costs incurred in marketing their products and services around the world. 

 

Additionally, around $10 million in Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) levies will also be waived for all Commonwealth fishers, ensuring they do not have to pay Commonwealth levies for the remainder of 2020. 

 

The initiative is part of the Government’s $1 billion Relief and Recovery Fund to support regions, communities and industry sectors that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. 

 

Are you an exporter? Have your say here

 

Download the Airfreight Support for Essential Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Industries Fact Sheet

 

Funding boost to support Australian exporters and tourism businesses 

The Morrison Government will inject an extra $49.8 million into the Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) program in the 2019-20 financial year, allowing exporters and tourism businesses to get additional reimbursements for costs incurred in marketing their products and services around the world. 

 

 ACCI has consistently lobbied hard for the EMDG to be lifted to $200 million annually and the Government has now added $49.8 million to bring EMDG funding to $207.7 million for the 2019-20 financial year. 

 

Any business which has incurred eligible EMDG expenses for promotional activities in 2019-20 financial year will be able to seek reimbursement for 50 per cent of these expenses without the Export Performance Test applying, when they apply from July 1. 

 

Additionally, applications lodged in the 2020-21 financial year can claim expenses even if events have been cancelled due to circumstances beyond a business’s control. 

 

Further information on the EMDG scheme and how to apply can be found here.

 

ICC 

The ICC Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation met by teleconference Monday night and urged the ICC to hold G20 nations to account on barriers to trade in the current crisis. ICC also intends to create online information about humanitarian needs and national measures relating to trade issues. They intend to seek input from National Committees from around the world about the circumstances facing each nation, along with accepting reform ideas and examples of best practices – for example Canada has a standing order for preferential treatment of medical supplies imports. 

 

Concerns were also raised that relaxed conditions to fight the COVID-19 crisis, also created opportunities for criminal behaviour and so there is a need for vigilance along supply chain to ensure that are not infiltrated for criminal purposes. 

 

The discussion also included consideration of longer term reform opportunities once the crisis is averted, such as complete tariff abolition. 

 

Watch the video conference with Dr Stephanie Fahey, CEO, Austrade

 

COVID-19 - WCO updates 

The World Customs Organizations has established a COVID19 section of its website.

This section of the WCO web-site is designed to compile information about the instruments, tools, initiatives and databases that can be utilized in the efforts to address the various COVID-19-related challenges faced by our Members and their stakeholders worldwide. 

 

Included within the section is a list of national legislation* of countries that adopted temporary export restrictions on certain categories of critical medical supplies in response to COVID-19.

 

The site also includes a handy guide to the Harmonised System Codes for medical supplies -  HS Classification reference for Covid-19 medical supplies

 
Temporary prohibition on the non-commercial export

30 March

Today, Monday 30th March, the Australian Government implemented a temporary prohibition on the non-commercial export of certain goods that contribute to controlling and preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The temporary prohibition applies to: 

  • personal protective equipment in the form of disposable face masks, disposable gloves, disposable gowns, protective eye wear in the form of goggles, glasses or visors, which can be worn by individuals to limit the transmission of organisms; and 
  • alcohol wipes and sanitiser. 

 

Please note that this does not apply to commercial exports, to those that previously exported those types of goods in the course of their ordinary business, or to Australian manufacturers of the goods. A limited number of other exemptions also apply. 

 

Further information on the prohibition is provided at the below links:  

Customs Notice  
Web page
Regulation

 

ICC Letter to G20 Trade Ministers 

The global response to COVID-19 has begun to accelerate this week with the G20 holding its first ever “virtual summit” on Thursday. The G20 leaders’ commitment to ensure the free flow of medical equipment, in particular, was especially welcome – but actions now must follow words.  

 

Yesterday, John Denton wrote to G20 Trade Ministers ahead of their meeting on Monday 30 March, with a roadmap for G20 countries to use trade policy to fight COVID-19 and rebuild the future. In the letter, ICC outlines 10 concrete ideas for trade ministers with three core goals in mind – to speed the health response to COVID-19, to keep trade flowing to restore growth and safeguard jobs, and to maintain momentum on reform of the trading system. 

 

COVID-19 AIR CARGO BULLETIN BOARD

27 March

Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) in these times of airline uncertainty, has launched a COVID-19 Air Cargo Bulletin Board to allow freight forwarders to list flights they have chartered. 

 

➼ ICC

ICC has launched the ICC Guidance on Integrity for a Covid-19 Response and Resilient Rebuild,  

 

With this Guidance, ICC encourages business and governments to continue to uphold the highest standards for integrity in business transactions during the Covid-19 crisis and for the post-COVID rebuild. 

 

The Guidance recommends:  

  • Preserving integrity in procurement during times of crisis, including through the use of e-procurement for enhanced transparency; 
  • Countering illicit practices in times of crisis; 
  • Maintaining the use of due diligence to address risks of corruption and human rights impacts presented by global supply chain disruptions; 
  • Addressing corruption risks related to customs; 
  • Preserving the rule of law during the crisis. 

 

International Chamber of Commerce resources

The ICC has a range of free downloads available to assist during the pandemic. Download here.

 

Developed by the Commission on Competition in line with ICC commitments, the ICC Call to Action on COVID-19 and Competition has been created to help chart an effective international response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The ICC Call to Action is aimed at governments and competition agencies alike. Its objective is two-fold: (i) to minimise the negative economic crisis on economies, markets and consumers in the short to medium term, and, more fundamentally (ii) to protect the structure of economies and the competitive fabric of markets in the longer term to confront the economic challenges that lie ahead. 

 

ICC has issued an easy reference, downloadable guide to good business practices that help protect employees, customers and local communities—and ultimately make businesses more resilient during this difficult period.

Tools for negotiating and drafting future contracts

 

ICC has approved the the ICC Force Majeure + Hardship Clauses 2020. The ICC Force Majeure and Hardship Clauses balance business people’s legitimate expectations of performance with the reality that circumstances change, making performance so hard that the contracts simply must change. The new 2020 clauses update the 2003 versions, reflecting the need for simpler presentation and expanded options to suit various companies’ needs.  On the Hardship Clause side, the updated model features 3 options to cater for a range of situations in which parties seek amendment or termination of their contract.

 

ICC has taken several initiatives to lead and engage the business response to COVID-19. In this regard, the ICC is mobilising all the knowledge and expertise across the organisation and network to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are pleased to draw your attention to some of the steps taken by ICC to help fight this pandemic: 

 

 

Webinar on force majeure in commercial contracts 

➼ OECD

Business at OECD Media Release

 

Business at OECD reiterates commitment to OECD project to address the tax challenges of the digitalisation of the economy

 

Paris, 26th June, 2020 – Business at OECD reiterates its commitment to engage constructively in the OECD project to address the tax challenges of the digitalisation of the economy. It continues to firmly advocate that reaching a global solution is the only way to avoid unilateral solutions which would do great harm to tax certainty and global trade in general.

 

Will Morris, Chair of Business at OECD’s Committee on Taxation and Fiscal Policy, commented: “While we have previously suggested a re-prioritization of OECD fiscal work amid the Covid-19 crisis in order to take into account the resource strain for most companies and governments, we want to strongly reiterate that we remain completely committed to supporting the critical goal of a sustainable international consensus, which meets countries' needs, and supports innovation and investment.  We hope that this consensus will be achieved soon.”

 

Business at OECD will continue to offer full support, engagement and cooperation to the OECD to continue work on the technical aspects of the project in the Inclusive Framework process, in order to arrive swiftly at a solution that is satisfactory for companies and tax administrations alike.  Likewise, to the greatest extent possible, we will encourage national leaders to reach a political consensus as soon as possible.

 

Business at OECD appeals to all stakeholders to subscribe to the aim of achieving this multilateral outcome.

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