OPINION: Should importers carry the burden of new taxes and fees?
FTA founder Paul Zalai tackles this question and addresses comments from Lloyd's List Australia readers, in his weekly opinion spot.
A recent blog referring to the Port of Melbourne Corporation Port License Fee (PLF) generated some interesting responses from readers introducing other related issues. If we accept the fact the state governments are using port assets to generate additional revenue (either through privatisation or increased fees), then the next question is who should pay?
My argument is that any new fees should be incorporated into existing port fee structures (as per the PLF) rather than a myriad of fees across the supply chain. The next question is whether such fees should apply equally to both import and export freight.
In a responding to a reader from my previous blog, I noted that a federal level, Customs and Border Protection apply cost recovery fees on imports only and cross-subsidise exports which are exempt from any fees. There seemed to be a view from some readers that this approach has merit.
Ben was one of the blog respondents who noted that exporters should be supported in all possible ways by federal, state and local governments “This is the case in many countries, especially developing countries that see export based industries as employers and generators of precious foreign exchange. In many cases, including China, exporters are recipients of government grants and direct subsidies which help them to remain competitive in global markets. As a result the country and society get direct and indirect benefits of keeping exporters afloat.”
Ben also stated that authorities in Australia are targeting exporters for easy revenue via monopolised service providers, offering “no escape routes” for exporters “Exporters in Australia are suffering. High dollar and high wages are rendering exports uncompetitive in global markets and now Australia is basically an exporter of commodities. Falling exports of manufactured goods from developed countries are in congruence with decline in manufacturing industry and society is paying a price for it. Growing unemployment in Europe and USA is a proof of this and it leads to social problems that set in the rot in society. There are people in UK who have not worked for three generations because the grandfather lost a job that was shifted to Asia, the father could not get one despite trying and the third generation did not even try to find one. If we need jobs to be maintained and created in Australia, we need robust manufacturing capabilities to make products that are competitive in global markets. To keep the jobs in Australia we need to support our exporters, not penalise them.”
Ben also highlighted that every container exported out of the country proves that an exporter is willing and able to compete globally “Don’t kill that spirit by robbing exporters of every dollar. If the government needs more money, then it should increase import duties, impose more tariffs on import containers rather than penalise exporters. As such importers are enjoying benefits of a positive exchange rate so why not ask them to part with some of the extra money they are making rather than bleed exporters to death.”
Whilst imposing more import tariffs and duties is perhaps unrealistic in an environment of increased free trade agreements, the concepts raised by Ben are well noted. Should importers carry the burden of new taxes and fees or should this be shared across the entire international trade sector? Your views are important so that they can be considered and incorporated into FTA submissions to government - for more detail, please refer to the “ADVOCACY” tab at www.FTAlliance.com.au.
What do you think? Have your say. Click here to add your comment (anonymously, if you choose!)