SUMMARY OF ALTERATIONS
CUSTOMS TARIFF PROPOSAL (No. 1) 2023
Reasons for changes: To ensure that obligation regarding customs duty made in the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the European Space Agency for a Co-operative Space Vehicle Tracking Program are provided for.
Date of effect: 1 December 2022
Alterations to the Customs Tariff Act 1995
Schedule 4 to the Customs Tariff Act 1995 (Customs Tariff Act) provides concessional rates of customs duty for goods that meet the eligibility criteria set out in the listed concessional items. Item 9 of Schedule 4 (International Organisations Concession) provides a concessional duty rate of ‘Free’ to prescribed goods of certain international organisations. Eligible goods are prescribed in a by-law made under section 271 of the Customs Act 1901 for Item 9.
To be eligible for the International Organisation Concession, the international organisation must be established by an agreement between the Government of Australia and the government of another country or countries. This requirement was introduced in 1983. Prior to 1983, international organisations were able to use the concession if that organisation had an agreement with the Government of Australia that provides for goods to be imported free from customs duty.
Australia and the European Space Agency have had a long-standing partnership. Since 1979, agreements have been in place to enable European Space Agency ground stations in Australia to track and communicate with space missions.
In late 2022, the European Space Agency requested advice from the Australian Border Force (ABF) on claiming the International Organisation Concession. In preparing this advice the ABF examined the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the European Space Agency for a Co-operative Space Vehicle Tracking Program, done at Capetown on 5 October 2011 (2012 Agreement).
The 2012 Agreement provides that the European Space Agency be able to import goods free from customs duty. Despite this the ABF determined that the European Space Agency was not within the scope of the existing Concession.
To ensure that the Australian Government is meeting its obligations under the 2012 Agreement, the ABF amended the International Organisations Concession. The amendments were first made by Notice of Intention to Propose Customs Tariff Alterations (No. 1) 2023 registered on 31 March 2023. The amendments apply retrospectively from 1 December 2022 to enable the European Space Agency to seek refunds for customs duty paid since this time.