“Stinkbugs and emerging biosecurity reforms are to be discussed by an expert panel from across government and business in Sydney next week.

Organised by the Freight and Trade Alliance, the panel consists of the Australian Border Force NSW regional commander Danielle Yannopoulos, as well as representatives of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (on stink bugs and emerging biosecurity reforms) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (on free trade agreements).

Lawyer Russell Wiese from Hunt & Hunt Lawyers is to provide some legal commentary.

FTA is hosting the event at the Novotel Brighton Le Sands on 9 April as part of its first annual state conference.

FTA director Caroline Zalai said they were delighted with 170 registrations for the Sydney event already recorded.

“This is an amazing response to the first of our 2019 series of events – we look forward to replicating these programs in Brisbane on 2 May and in Melbourne on 19 June,” Ms Zalai said.

The full day program also provides 24 Continuing Professional Development points for customs brokers.

The event also provides the first of the year’s Continued Biosecurity Competency sessions required by importers and customs brokers to maintain their accreditation. Contact the FTA for more information.”

Article Credit: The Daily Cargo News – 2nd April 2019

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STEVEDORE DP World Australia and the CFMMEU have made progress in resolving their differences and heading off disruptive industrial action.

A spokesman for DPWA said action set for Brisbane and Fremantle this week had been put on hold, albeit stoppages still occurred at Port Botany on Monday 1 April.

“We are hopeful that we’ll reach an agreement to have the action stopped in Sydney as well,” the spokesman said.

Negotiations occurred until late on Sunday night and again on Monday morning.

The spokesman indicated talks towards an actual EA could also resume.

“We’ve said that there’s no negotiation while there’s threat of, or actual, industrial action,” the spokesman said.

“Once we clear the air on that front we’ll be able to start negotiations.”

In a statement to customers, DPWA said since the union began protected industrial action at DPWA terminals on 19 March, they had “struggled to secure sufficient labour and skills required to meet the needs of our customers”.

“We are cognisant that the ongoing bans and stoppages continue to impact our shipping line customers and supply chain partners,” DPWA stated late last week.

“We can confirm that we are in regular contact with all stevedore operators to secure any and all available capacity at their terminals across the four ports

We also continue to explore options to change vessel rotations and the elimination of port calls.”

The dispute between the union and the company centres on the terms of a new enterprise agreement, particularly income protection insurance.

Article credit: The Daily Cargo News April 1st 2019


“A guarantee Hong Kong will not hit Aussie goods with tariffs is how Australian authorities are hailing a new trade agreement.

Australia and Hong Kong signed the Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement and the associated Investment Agreement on Tuesday 26 March.

While much of the agreement is about education and services (not things that belong in a ship), there are also relevant themes for Australian exporters.

“The Australia-Hong Kong FTA will provide increased certainty for Australian service providers and investors,” the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement.

“It will lock in continued access to the Hong Kong market for Australian exporters of education, financial and professional services.

“It will also guarantee that Hong Kong will not apply tariffs to Australian goods exports in the future.”

According to DFAT, Hong Kong was Australia’s twelfth largest trading partner overall in 2017, with total two-way trade in goods and services worth $18.8bn.

In 2017, Hong Kong was Australia’s sixth most important destination for merchandise exports ($12bn) and seventh-largest services market ($3bn).

After signature, Australia is to follow the domestic treaty making processes to ratify the agreements.

This is to include tabling the text of the agreements in Parliament and an inquiry by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties.

Article Credit of The Daily Cargo News – March 28th 2019

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Is your transport company a “Common Carrier”? Does this clause exclude them from liability should your goods get damaged or lost in transit? The Daily Cargo News explores Transport Contracts in their latest opinion piece.

“It Is a truth universally acknowledged that transport operators will have no liability for any loss or damage to the goods they carry (unless they are ocean carriers in which case different rules may apply much to the chagrin of the said ocean carriers).

This golden rule is not contained in any statute, though it is worth making the point that under the Australian Consumer Law as it applies to small business, it is likely that non-negotiable exclusion clauses in standard form contracts may be considered to be unfair and therefore unenforceable.

The exemptions from liability are to be found in transport contracts themselves, often in what is known as the fine print. The clause will usually say (in effect) that the carrier is not liable for anything, ever. It may go on to say that if the carrier is sued by anyone claiming loss or damage (a third party negligence claim, for example) the contracting party will indemnify the carrier.

The exclusion clause often begins with the mysterious incantation: “The Carrier is not a Common Carrier and will have no liability as such.” Despite the fact that the incantation is repeated (figuratively) every time a transport contract is entered into, it is doubtful that either party knows what it means.

To understand the status and meaning of Common Carrier, one must go back in time, around 200 years, to the days of horse and carriage, and before the railroads. At that time carriers, usually illiterate, operated on usual routes. Let’s say London to Bristol, and return. In those days, if you wanted your chest to go to Bristol, you would approach a common carrier who worked that route, and ask him (it would almost invariably have been a man) to take your chest to Bristol. You would probably agree on a price, and that was basically that.

Because there was no written contract the common law described the obligations of the common carrier (the word common in this context referring to the fact that the carrier carried goods for many different people, rather than his social class).

Despite the fact that written contract terms will generally prevail over any common law duties as a common carrier, the phrase continues to be used. A large part of the significance of the law of common carrier related to his or her liability for loss of or damage to the goods carried. Despite its antiquity, it was considered in a recent decision of the UK Supreme Court (formerly known as the House of Lords, the UK’s highest court), in the case of Volcafe v Compania Sud Americana De Vapores SA [2018] UKSC 61.

That case concerned carriage of goods by sea, so the facts are not relevant here. However Lord Sumption traversed liability regimes for bailees of goods, which includes the common carrier.

He said:

The characteristic feature of a common carrier was that he held himself out as accepting for carriage the goods of all comers on a given route, subject to capacity limits. As such, he was strictly liable at common law for loss of or damage to the cargo subject only to exceptions for acts of God and the Queen’s enemies. The absence of negligence was irrelevant. But although the position of common carriers is commonly referred to by way of background in the case law, as it was in the judgments below, it is no longer a useful paradigm for the common law liability of a shipowner. Common carriers have for many years been an almost extinct category. For all practical legal purposes, the common law liability of a carrier, unless modified by contract, is the same as that of bailees for reward generally.

The UK Supreme Court has helpfully restated that:

  • a common carrier is strictly liable for loss and damage (unless caused by an Act of God or Queen’s Enemies)
  • a bailee for reward is not an insurer and his or her obligation extends only to taking reasonable care of the goods (though he or she must also prove the absence of negligence)
  • in any event, the terms of written contracts of carriage will modify and prevail over these common law relationships.

Some common issues

While claims under transport contracts might be relatively straightforward (ie the carrier has no liability, for anything, ever), this might be a little more complicated when a third party is involved.

A common example is where a third party asks a freight forwarder to arrange for the delivery of goods from the wharf or warehouse to the third party’s premises. The forwarder will often contract with a carrier (a transport company or courier). If the goods are damaged while in the care of the carrier, the third party may make a claim in bailment (as per the second point above) on the basis that the third party is not bound by the terms of the contract between the Forwarder and the carrier. This can give rise to complicated legal issues relating to Himalaya Clauses and Sub-Bailment on Terms, but also (as mentioned above) the terms of the contract may require the forwarder to indemnify the carrier in relation to any claims.

The other complicating factor can be insurance. Transit insurance is common but there may be issues around who’s policy applies (someone has to pay for the policy, plus wear any deductible that might apply to any claim).

It is also common for carriers to give an assurance that they have insurance. While this is almost always true, it is potentially misleading and will depend on what form of insurance the carrier has. While the carrier may indeed have liability insurance (for example), if the carrier’s terms and conditions exclude liability, the insurer has no obligation to pay because the carrier has no liability.

And if the carrier has transit insurance, there may be an issue as to whether the carrier has an insurable interest in the goods. 

Transport contracts are all about clearly defining the parties’ obligations and liabilities, who does what, and who is liable for what. Once that is clear the parties can manage the relationship appropriately, through pricing and/or insurance. While it is tempting to leave barnacle clauses in contracts (such as reference to Common Carrier) because they’ve always been there, they have the potential to confuse relationships and potentially lead to avoidable disputes. Geoff Farnsworth is a partner with Holding Redlich”

Article credit of The Daily Cargo News – March 22nd 2019

You can’t avoid dumping duty…

“A Sydney fabrication business has been ordered to pay more than $67,000 in penalties and recovered duty and GST.

This followed an investigation by the Australian Border Force into the importation of Chinese aluminium products via Thailand.

The investigation by ABF Customs Compliance Operations focused on an import declaration last December for almost 15 tonnes of aluminium sections shipped into Sydney in a sea container.

The investigation found three “false and misleading statements”, which included a false declaration regarding the origin of the goods, to avoid the payment of Countervailing Duty, Dumping Duty and Customs Duty.

The Australian Government imposes countervailing duty and dumping duty to fight the dumping of low priced overseas goods below their “normal value”.

The shipment was under-valued. According to the ABF, the false and misleading statements caused a shortfall of $35,722 in duty, and a further $4676 in GST.

As well as paying the under-declared duty and GST the company was penalised $26,791 – the equivalent of 75% of the duty shortfall. In total it was required to pay $67,189.

ABF Acting Commander Malcolm Phelps said the case was a reminder for businesses to correctly declare imports.

“At the end of the day importers who don’t pay the correct amount of duty and GST are depriving the Australian economy and ultimately Australian taxpayers,” Acting Commander Phelps said.

“In this case, considerable effort was made to route the consignment through Thailand to conceal the fact that it originated in China.”

Acting Commander Phelps said ABF Customs Compliance Operations officers worked diligently to ensure importers complied with reporting and revenue collection.

“Failure to comply can result in severe penalties, or the suspension or cancellation of licences and potentially prosecution,” he said.

As Australia’s customs service, the ABF has made trade enforcement one of its key operational priorities.”

Article Credit of The Daily Cargo News – March 21st 2019


“Research just released by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia and BIS Oxford Economics’ reports goods travelling in international aircraft arriving and leaving Australia are worth $109bn annually – a fact that, until today, has been entirely hidden.

The 2019 International Airfreight Indicator, reports one in every five dollars of Australia’s traded goods travels via air.

“Every day more than 550 international flights arrive and depart Australia, yet until now, we have been remarkably blind to the value, the type of commodity, and the economic contribution of goods that travel in the belly of these aircraft,” said Infrastructure Partnerships Australia chief executive Adrian Dwyer.

“In a national first, the 2019 International Airfreight Indicator shines a light on a multi-billion industry that has historically gone unnoticed in our broader trade debate.

“The Indicator shows that airports are crucial to our trade story, and the cargo transported beneath passengers is vitally important to airlines, airports and the Australian economy.”

Mr Dwyer said last year $109bn of international trade passed through Australia’s airports, with airfreight set to top $114bn this financial year.

“While airfreight only represents 1% of Australia’s trade volume, it punches well above its weight in value. One in every $5 of Australia’s imports and exports travels via our airports – making the airfreight sector one of the largest value contributors to Australia’s trade position.”

Mr Dwyer said in a period of heightened trade tensions and structural economic change, data was critical in improving planning, regulation and investment in freight.

“Without useful data to examine and measure our freight sector we will be flying blind on our international trade,” he said. “That is why Infrastructure Partnerships Australia has called on Government to establish a dedicated freight body to independently measure and publish detailed analysis of the overall performance of our logistic and supply chain networks.”

Article credit of The Daily Cargo News 15th of March 2019