Australia has established strong trading ties with the world. One of the contributing factors to Australia’s success as a major supplier is its location in the Asia-Pacific region. Since the country has a lot of businesses both locally and internationally, rules and regulations exist to ensure the protection and safety of domestic industries, consumers and the environment. For all of your Business law questions, the best strategy is to retain a commercial lawyer in Sydney, but here is what you need to know about trading in Australia in a nutshell.
International Business Law Framework
The Australian Government is contributing to the development of Australian businesses regarding international trade. These regulations ensure that Australian citizens, whether they are consumers or business owners, are protected from harmful and dangerous goods imported from overseas.
Currently, there are six Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) between Australia and other countries. Eight more FTAs are under negotiation.
These Free Trade Agreements contain legally binding commitments by each member to loosen the restriction on the access to their markets for goods, services and even investments. The purpose of these FTA’s is to help Australia become more globally competitive and to help our markets synchronise with those internationally.
Tariffs and Duties
Australia is committed to complying with the tariffs, tariff quotas, export subsidies and domestic support for products under the World Trade Organisation (WTO). As a WTO member, Australia has a commitment to reduce its domestic protectionism and move towards a more international trade model.
When importing products to Australia, it is a requirement that the products are declared. By declaring the goods, it enables the regulatory authorities to apply the appropriate types of classification.
It is a requirement that the importer makes a declaration to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, which also enforces import restrictions.
Being able to import goods internationally is part of the daily activities of businesses in Australia. However, it is not as simple as shipping the item from overseas. Any business that is considering importing should be well-informed regarding the government regulations, duty taxes, permits, and quarantine and treatments that apply to imported goods.
If the import goods do not meet the requirements stated above, it can be seized by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection. You can check with a commercial lawyer in Sydney if you have any grey areas regarding the Import Regulations to ensure that you are complying with all the relevant legislation.
What are Fair Trading Laws?
Fair Trading Laws exist to protect both the consumers and producers.
The Competition and Consumer Act
The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA) is the main federal law that makes sure that fair trading is observed for your business and your customers.
The CCA deals with unfair market practices, industry codes of practice, mergers and acquisitions of companies, product safety, collective bargaining, product labelling, price monitoring, and the regulation of industries such as telecommunications, gas, electricity and airports. This act covers aspects of the marketplace such as the suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, competitors and customers.
In Australia, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission or the ACCC carries out enforcement of the Competition and Consumer Act. The ACCC reinforces good business practices for a fair and efficient marketplace.
You can visit the ACCC website for more information on the federal competition, fair trading and consumer protection laws. If you want more specific advice then you can visit Executive Legal, a law firm in Sydney whom have expertise in this area and can help you get a legal professional’s insights and assistance.
The Australian Consumer Law
The national Australian Consumer Law (ACL) came into effect on 1 January 2011. This means that if you run a business in Australia or if you are planning to open one, you will be affected by the ACL.
No matter what industry you are working with– whether you work with customers, businesses, provide services or sell goods, knowing your rights and obligations is important. You should be aware of how consumer laws can affect your business.
What is the Australian Consumer Law?
The ACL has replaced 17 existing federal, state and territory consumer laws which includes:
standards of business conduct
unfair contract laws
harmful business practices
the regulation of specific types of business-to-consumer transactions
basic consumer rights for goods and services
the regulation of consumer product safety.
Instead of having 17 individual laws, these rules and regulations are carried out and enforced jointly by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) along with the State and Territory consumer protection agencies.
Some examples of the ACL in action are as follows:
In the case that a customer asks for a bill, you must provide it for free.
If your services and/or goods are worth more than $75 excluding GST, then you must provide your customer with a bill.
Your receipts should have the following information:
Your business being identified as the supplier
Your ABN and/or ACN
The item or service that has been provided
The date and price of the transaction
In the case that the customer finds any problems with your goods and/or services– your customer has the right to request compensation. The compensation may result in a full refund.
What are Australian Business Standards?
A standard helps in specifying ways of doing business. Standards make sure that your products and services are safe, reliable and effective.
Standards are crucial in ensuring that the products and services provided in a business matches the expectations of the customers. Not being able to provide what you are marketing can lead to some legal issues, make sure that you consult with a lawyer regarding the business laws in Australia to ensure that your business can run smoothly.
Benefits of using standards
Standards provide the following benefits:
Lessen legal risks by making sure that your products and services are safe for consumers to use.
Open up opportunities to access international markets.
Improve business performance and efficiency as you adopt best practice.
There are two kinds of standards:
As the name suggests, mandatory standards are compulsory standards that all businesses must follow if they want to operate within a particular industry or sell certain products. The mandatory standards may vary for different products and industries. In Australia, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is responsible for most mandatory standards.
Some mandatory standards include:
Safety standards for baby dummies
Cosmetics ingredients labelling
Tobacco health warnings.
A voluntary standard is not a legal requirement but it is a representation of best practice in the market. These standards are decided by non-government bodies such as Standards Australia.
Some voluntary standards include:
Motorcycle helmet safety standard AS 1698-1988
International Standard Book Number standard
Fishing line breaking load standard AS 4470-1997.
Visit the ACCC’s page on mandatory standards to learn more.
Although voluntary standards are not legal requirements, it is possible that they may become compulsory under contract law or a mandatory standard.
Our firm can help you with any questions you have relating to your business law needs and we are only too happy to help. Don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us today.