Taking advantage of TAFTA's benefits and opportunities: a five step guide for Australian exporters

To benefit from TAFTA preferential rates, your export product will have to satisfy a few basic criteria that will be broadly familiar to Australian business. To meet the requirements, it is recommended that you take the following steps:

Step 1 — Obtain an AHECC Code for your Product

Identify the Australian Harmonised Export Commodity Classification (AHECC) code for your specific product.

The AHECC code is an eight digit number used to classify goods for export. The first six digits are part of an international standard (“the Harmonized System”), and the final two are specific to Australian exports. There are more than 5000 AHECC codes, so it is important to select the correct code when classifying your goods.

The Australian Customs Service provides assistance with the classification of goods for export. To access the new AHECC Hotline and Electronic Advisory Service, you should complete a Customs advice request proforma (PDF) and email it to aheccadvice@customs.gov.au. Alternatively, you can call Customs Information Centre (CIC) on 1300 363 263 and ask to have the proforma faxed or sent to you.

Step 2 — Check the applicable TAFTA Preferential Rate

Once you have an AHECC code, you will be able to look up the Thai Tariff Schedule (Zip file) to see how your product will benefit from the Agreement. Tip - Look for your AHECC product number under the ‘Heading’ and ‘Sub-Heading’ columns.

You should note that the Thai Tariff Schedule usually only has six or seven digits. As the Harmonised System tariff classifications are only identical to six digits, you will need to match the first six digits of your AHECC with the first six digits of the Thai tariff schedule. Should the Thai classification be further divided, you will need to determine which of those classifications applies to your goods to work out the correct tariff rate.

Step 3 — Determine the Rule of Origin Applying to your Product

Rules of origin are needed to provide objective criteria for determining whether or not goods are eligible for preferential rates of duty and to avoid transhipped goods from markets other than Australia or Thailand seeking to claim TAFTA preference. For further information on rules of origin see the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service TAFTA website.

Wholly Obtained

If your goods are wholly obtained in Australia (for example they were grown, fished or mined entirely in Australia, or were produced in Australia entirely from those goods), you will need to mark the letters ‘WO’ (wholly obtained) in the Origin Criterion column of the Certificate of Origin. See step 5 below.

Not Wholly Obtained

If your product was not wholly obtained in Australia, then you will need to check the TAFTA specific rule of origin requirements for your product. A full listing of the TAFTA product specific rules can be found in TAFTA Annex 4.1 (Zip file)

If there are goods listed on your Certificate which do not meet the TAFTA rules of origin requirements, list them as ‘NA’ in the Origin Criterion column.

Check our step by step guide to help you determine a good’s origin. If you have difficulties in determining origin, you should contact either of the TAFTA Authorised Bodies, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) or the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group).

For goods that must meet the product specific rules, you will need to mark the Certificate of Origin with the letters ‘PS’ (product specific) in the ‘Origin Criterion’ column of the Certificate form. See step 5 below.

Step 4 — Register as an Exporter

Once you have determined the preferential tariff rate for your specific product and you have established that your specific product meets the rules of origin, you are now ready to register as an exporter of that product. You will need to register in respect of the goods you intend exporting to Thailand under TAFTA. For example, if you are an exporter of vehicle components, you will need to be registered as an exporter for every component (each will have its own AHECC code). This is required to ensure that products exported to Thailand claiming TAFTA preferential duty rates satisfy the rules of origin requirements.

However, you will only need to register as an exporter once, unless there is a material change to the nature of your products after registration. Your registration status will be reviewed periodically by the authorised body that registered you.

View an example of a TAFTA ‘Deed of Declaration’ (PDF 95KB)

The bodies authorised under TAFTA to register exporters are ACCI and Ai Group. Both Bodies have identical registration procedures. Alternatively, you can call ACCI on (02) 6273 2311 or Ai Group on (03) 9867 0152 to register as an exporter and obtain a certificate of origin.

Step 5 — Obtain a TAFTA Certificate of Origin

TAFTA provides that goods can only attract a tariff preference if they are accompanied by a Certificate of Origin which confirms that they meet the rules of origin. Please note that a separate, valid Certificate of Origin is required for each shipment of goods attracting a preference. Exporters must forward a copy of each Certificate to the Thai importer.

Exporters must be honest in filling out documentation, and classify their goods correctly, as penalties and delays may otherwise result.

View a sample TAFTA Certificate of Origin (PDF 127KB)

What if I don’t have a Certificate of Origin?

Exports which do not meet the rules of origin, or which do meet the rules but lack a Certificate of Origin, are still permitted, but will be subject to the ‘most favoured nation’ (MFN) tariff rate rather than the TAFTA rates. MFN tariffs are the general rates that Australia and Thailand apply to all goods from all countries, and are generally higher than the rates applying under TAFTA.

Do I need a Certificate of Origin in all cases?

No, where the Australian or Thai MFN rate for a particular product is zero, or equal to or below the TAFTA rate for any reason, that product does not have to meet the rules of origin, and a Certificate of Origin is not required.

Where can I obtain a Certificate of Origin?

The ACCI and the Ai Group are Authorised Bodies and both follow the same procedures and charge the same fees for issuing Certificates of Origin.