CHAFTA frequently asked questions

The China–Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) paves the way for the next phase of Australia’s economic relationship with China. The agreement unlocks significant opportunities for Australia in China, which is Australia’s largest export market for goods and services, accounting for nearly a third of total exports, and a growing source of foreign investment. If you are an importer, exporter or producer, understanding more about ChAFTA will help you get the most out of our free trade agreement with China.

Q1: When did ChAFTA enter into force?

ChAFTA entered into force on 20 December 2015. On that date, 7,289 individual Chinese tariffs were cut: 1,710 tariffs were completely eliminated, and a further 5,579 had their first of several cuts.

A second round of tariff cuts took place on 1 January 2016 and the third round of tariff cuts took place on 1 January 2017. More tariffs will continue to be cut each year on 1 January.

Q2: When will the next tariff cut for ChAFTA take place?

1 January 2018.

Q3: I want to export to China. How can I find out the ChAFTA preferential tariff for my product?

The best place to look is the FTA Portal. This is an interactive and user-friendly tool to help you identify the tariff for your product, first by providing assistance on the harmonised system (HS) tariff code (you can search by HS code or keyword), and then showing you how it may meet the rules of origin to claim the preferential tariff.

You can also check China’s tariff schedule, available under ‘FTA text and tariff schedules’ in the ChAFTA section of our website.

If you do not know the HS code for your product, or if it’s not clear from the schedule or FTA Portal, see our response to Q6: ‘How can I find out the HS code for my product?’.

The ChAFTA section on our website also has a wide range of fact sheets about agricultural, food, resources and manufactured products, as well as on services sectors and investment.

Our Guide to using ChAFTA to export and import goods provides more information to step you through the exporting process.

For the export of agricultural goods, it's also worth checking the quarantine and other technical market access requirements for China. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is responsible for export quarantine arrangements, and can be contacted via its website.

If you have any further enquiries, you can email us at ChinaFTA@dfat.gov.au.

Q4: I import from China. How do I find out the preferential tariff for my product?

The best place to look is the FTA Portal. If you know the HS (harmonised system) code for your product, you can also look at Australia’s tariff schedule, available under ‘FTA text and tariff schedules’ on this website. If it’s not clear from the schedule or FTA Portal, see Question 6.

Our Guide to using ChAFTA to export/import can step you through the importing process.

For agricultural goods, you can also check the quarantine requirements for China by speaking with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, which is responsible for export quarantine arrangements. Contact details are available through the department's website.

If you have any further enquiries, you can email us at ChinaFTA@dfat.gov.au.

Q5: Do I need any documentation to ensure my product receives the preferential tariff under ChAFTA?

Yes. The Guide to using ChAFTA to export/import can step you through the documents required and the certification process.

The FTA Portal can also help you with this. The portal can help you identify the tariff for your product, first by providing guidance on the HS tariff code and then showing you how it may meet the rules of origin to claim the preferential tariff.

Q6: How can I find out the HS code for my product?

The harmonised system (or HS) code is an internationally-recognised system for categorising traded goods, and is used by all countries as the basis for classifying trade. It allows the customs administration of the importing country to classify your good and determine what tariff will apply to that good. The customs administration in the importing country will determine the HS code of your good. If you already export to China, you (or your customs broker) should already have the HS code.

Under ChAFTA, you can also ask for an advance ruling from the importing customs authority. Advance rulings are binding and will provide you with certainty when you export or import. Please read the Guide to using ChAFTA to export and import goods for further information. Your customs broker or importer may be able to help you with getting an advance ruling.

For goods being imported into Australia, you can contact the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Telephone hotline: 1300 805 876
Email: chafta@border.gov.au
Web: www.border.gov.au/Busi/Free/China
Exporters to China should contact China Customs: http://english.customs.gov.cn.

Q7: How can I check the tariffs for China?

The best place to look is the FTA Portal. The portal can help you identify the tariff for your product, first by providing guidance on the HS tariff code and then by showing you how it may meet the rules of origin to claim the preferential tariff.

Our Guide to using ChAFTA to export and import goods can also step you through this process.

Q8: How can I check the tariffs for Australia?

The best place to look is the FTA Portal. The portal can help you identify the tariff for your product, first by providing guidance on the HS tariff code and then showing you how it may meet the rules of origin to claim the preferential tariff.

Our Guide to using ChAFTA to export and import goods can also step you through this process.

Q9: The current tariff for my product is already zero or lower than the ChAFTA preferential rate. Do I have to use ChAFTA?

No. You do not need to use the ChAFTA rate. You should use the best available rate.

China can change the tariffs it applies on imports, but ChAFTA binds the rates that Australian exporters pay for certain goods and services. This means China may apply a lower tariff than the ChAFTA preferential rate at a point in time. You should use the best rate available to you.

Australia unilaterally reduced the tariffs on imports into Australia of some textiles, clothing and footwear (TCF) products from 10 per cent to 5 per cent on 1 January 2015. However, in the FTA negotiations, China and Australia used the most-favoured nation (MFN) customs duty as of 1 January 2013 as a basis for negotiations. This means that early in the implementation of ChAFTA the preferential rate for some TCF products may be higher than the MFN applied rate. In this case, you should use the best rate available to you, whether that is the MFN applied rate or another preferential scheme rate, such as the developing countries rate (DCS).

Q10: I am importing from or exporting to China and I want to claim the preferential tariff. How can I organise a certificate of origin (COO)?

Our Guide to using ChAFTA to export and import goods can step you through this process.

Importers and exporters can access the authorised template from the relevant authorising body. For importers to Australia, your exporter or producer in China or your customs broker may be able to help you with organising a COO to import goods from China.

China’s authorised bodies to issue a COO are listed in the answer to Question 14.

For exporters to China, Australia’s authorised bodies to issue a COO are listed in the answer to Question 15.

A COO applies to a single shipment. It may cover one or more goods but must not exceed 20 items and is valid for one year.

Q11: Who has to sign the certificate of origin?

The exporter or producer must sign the COO.

Q12: I’m doing a certificate of origin for ChAFTA. What do I enter for the preference criterion?

Our Guide to using ChAFTA to export and import goods can step you through this process.

Q13: Who are the authorised bodies for issuing COOs in Australia for exports to China?

For exporters to China, Australia’s authorised bodies to issue a COO are:
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI)
Phone: +61 2 6273 2311 or email: info@acci.asn.au

The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group)
Phone: +61 3 9867 0132 or email: tradedocs@aigroup.com.au

The Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA) (for wine and wine-related products)
Phone: +61 8 8228 2000

Q14: Who are the authorised bodies for issuing COOs in China for imports to Australia?

For importers to Australia, China’s authorised bodies are:

General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ)

The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade

Your exporter or producer in China or your customs broker may be able to assist you with obtaining a COO for the purposes of import into Australia.

Importers should seek the authorised template from the relevant authorising body.

Q15: How can I get an advance ruling from Australian customs?

If you are importing goods into Australia and would like an advance ruling on a classification or origin of a good, please contact the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).

Applications for ChAFTA advance rulings became available from 1 December 2015 and should be submitted to chafta@border.gov.au. More information can be found on the DIBP website.

Q16: How can I get an advance ruling from China's customs authority?

Australian exporters can request formal advice from the China Customs Service about the tariff classification of the goods intended for export to China, as well as a ruling on origin. This advice is available through an ‘advance ruling’, which is an official ruling for your goods that is binding on the customs administration.

We update the guide whenever more information about advance rulings becomes available.

Your importer or your customs broker may also be able to assist you with this process.

Q17: Can I make a retrospective claim? Can I access preferential rates following import?

Yes. Under ChAFTA, importers can claim preferential tariff treatment after the good has been imported and a claim was not made at the time of importation. However, for imports to China, importers must specify their intention to make a retrospective claim at the time they import the goods. Importers have at least one year to apply for a refund of any excess duties they have paid. In Australia, refunds can be claimed for up to four years after the date of importation.

Q18: What records do I need to keep supporting my COO or Document of Origin (DOO) in case I am audited?

Under ChAFTA, exporters or producers must keep all records necessary to demonstrate goods’ origin for three years after signing a COO or such longer time in accordance with a Party’s laws and regulations.

Exporters or importers into Australia must keep their records for five years. An electronic version is acceptable. ChAFTA Article 3.20 provides details on record-keeping requirements. You can read more about record keeping in the Guide to using ChAFTA to export and import goods.

Q19: Does ChAFTA make allowances for third-party invoicing?

Yes, third-party invoicing is allowed and is covered on the back of the COO.

Q20: My goods have been stored in China for the past three months. If I import them now will they receive the preferential tariff treatment under ChAFTA?

No. Under local regulations, China considers goods in bonded warehouses in China at the time of entry into force as having entered China. These goods will not be eligible for preferential tariff treatment under ChAFTA.

Q21: My goods have been stored in Australia for the past three months. If I import them now will they receive the preferential tariff treatment under ChAFTA?

Yes. In Australia, goods stored in bonded warehouses are eligible for preferential tariff treatment under ChAFTA, as long as they meet the other requirements of the FTA.

Q22: My goods are being transhipped through Singapore or Hong Kong on their way to Australia. Do I need any more documentation to support my claim for preferential treatment?

ChAFTA is designed to incorporate modern trading practices, including using transport and distribution hubs for consigning goods. However, these goods must meet a range of conditions, including:

  • they do not undergo any operation other than unloading, reloading, storing, repacking, re-labelling, splitting up for transport reasons or any operation necessary to preserve the goods in good condition to be transported on to China or Australia
  • they are not stored temporarily in a transport hub for longer than 12 months
  • they remain under customs control (for the purposes of the FTA, goods transhipped through Hong Kong into Australia are considered to be under ‘customs control’).

Under the FTA, China may require specific additional documentation on customs control (and non-manipulation) for transhipped goods.

For goods transhipped through a third party into Australia, including Singapore and Hong Kong, Australia will not require any specific additional documentation to grant preferential tariff treatment under ChAFTA, other than the commercial documentation ordinarily required to be kept by importers.

Q23: My goods are being transhipped through Singapore or Hong Kong on their way to China. Do I need any more documentation to support my claim for preferential treatment?

ChAFTA is designed to reflect modern trading practices, including the use of transport and distribution hubs for consignments of goods. However, these goods must meet a range of conditions, including:

  • they do not undergo any operation other than unloading, reloading, storing, repacking, re-labelling, splitting up for transport reasons or any operation necessary to preserve the goods in good condition to be transported on to China or Australia
  • they are not stored temporarily in a transport hub for longer than 12 months
  • they remain under customs control (goods transhipped through Hong Kong into Australia are considered to be under ‘customs control’).

Under ChAFTA, China may require specific additional documentation on customs control (and non-manipulation) for transhipped goods. China has set out its requirements in Articles 14 and 15 of its Customs Decree 228, and announcements 57 and 60 (see next paragraph). The official Chinese versions and unofficial translations of these decrees and announcements are available in our Guide to using ChAFTA to export and import goods.

Announcement 57 provides advice on streamlined arrangements for FTA transhipment through third countries (excluding Hong Kong or Macau). This applies to instances where the good is supported by a single shipping document, issued by international courier services, civil aviation transportation companies, international shipping contractors and their agents, that shows both the point of origin in Australia and the destination in China.

China has also released an announcement (no. 60 of 2015) to help implement direct consignment through Hong Kong and Macau.

Related to this, the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department has established a China Free Trade Agreement Transshipment Facilitation Scheme to help implement China’s transhipment arrangements.

These FAQs and the accompanying Guide to using ChAFTA to export and import goods will be updated as soon as possible on transhipment arrangements (other than through Hong Kong) for goods not supported by a single shipping document.

Q24: Does ChAFTA cover Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan?

No. ChAFTA does not cover Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan.

Q25: When did the wool quota start?

The ChAFTA Australia-only quota with a starting rate of 30,000 tonnes clean equivalent weight has applied since 1 January 2016. Australian exporters also retain access to China’s WTO wool quota.

Last Updated: 13 October 2017

Contacts

  • Email: chinafta@dfat.gov.au
  • Phone: +61 2 6261 1888 (during standard business hours)
  • Mail:
    China FTA Coordinator
    Free Trade Agreement Division
    Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,
    R.G. Casey Building, John McEwen Crescent
    BARTON ACT 0221