Exports and imports

Free trade agreements

Australia has engaged in free trade agreements with the United States, Thailand, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Peru, Indonesia and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Australia is also a party to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

Australia also is a signatory to free trade agreements with India and the United Kingdom and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which are not yet in force.

Bilateral investment treaties

Australia is party to bilateral investment treaties with a number of countries, including China, Turkey, Argentina, Sri Lanka and Poland.

Import controls

The Customs Act 1901 (Cth) (Customs Act) regulates the import and export of goods to and from Australia. Australian Border Force does not require companies or individuals to hold import licences for the purposes of importing goods into Australia. However, under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 (Cth), for some goods, and regardless of value, importers may need to obtain permits to clear certain goods.

All goods imported into Australia must be cleared by the Australian Border Force, whether imported by air, sea or post. Importers are responsible for obtaining a formal customs clearance, including submitting a completed import declaration form and paying duty, goods and services tax (GST) and any other taxes and charges that may apply, for all goods with a value above A$1,000.

Goods with a value equal to or less than A$1,000 may be subject to GST if the supply of the goods is taken to be connected with Australia.

Certain goods may either not be imported into Australia or may only be imported conditionally. A list of goods that might be subject to import prohibitions and restrictions is available from the Australian Border Force website.

Duties and taxes

Goods imported into Australia are subject to customs duty. Rates are determined by the tariff classification in the Customs Tariff Act 1995 (Cth), with the average rate being 5%, and often the duty is determined by reference to the value of the imported goods.

Australian Border Force determines the value of goods imported into Australia based on valuation provisions in the Customs Act.

GST, Wine Equalisation Tax, and Luxury Car Tax are also imposed on goods imported to Australia. The Department of Home Affairs administers these taxes for goods imported to Australia.

Export controls

Australia has relatively few export controls on most exported goods and services. However, restrictions apply to some types of exports, such as:

  • weapons and “dual-use” goods;
  • certain therapeutic and chemical substances; and
  • cultural and heritage items.

Trade sanctions

Australian law implements United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions regimes as well as Australian autonomous sanctions regimes.

UNSC sanctions regimes are generally implemented under the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945 (Cth) (United Nations Act) and its regulations. There is a separate set of regulations under the United Nations Act for each UNSC sanctions regime.

Australian autonomous sanctions regimes are generally implemented under the Autonomous Sanctions Act 2011 (Cth) (Autonomous Act) and the Australian Autonomous Sanctions Regulations 2011. There is only one set of regulations under the Autonomous Act.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade administers the United Nations Act, the Autonomous Act and their regulations.

A full list of sanction regimes currently implemented under Australian sanction laws, including detailed information about the particular sanctions measures, can be found via this link.