CPTPP importers and exporters frequently asked questions

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which enters into force on 30 December 2018, delivers substantial commercial opportunities for Australian businesses. These FAQs have been compiled as additional resource to assist importers and exporters to better understand some of the key rules under the agreement.

Q1: When does CPTPP enter into force?

CPTPP will enter into force on 30th December 2018 for Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Singapore. For Vietnam, the latest country to ratify the CPTPP, it will enter into force on 14 January 2019. For the remaining countries, the CPTPP will enter into force 60 days after those countries complete their domestic ratification procedures.

Q2: When will initial tariff cuts take place?

On entry into force of the CPTPP, Australian exporters of CPTPP originating goods will benefit from initial tariff cuts to Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore (according to their respective Tariff Elimination Schedules). Additionally a second tariff cut will be made just two days later on 1 January 2019 for Australian exports to Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore (Japan's second tariff cut will take effect on 1 April 2019). For Vietnam, Australian exporters will benefit from tariff cuts from 14 January 2019. Tariff cuts for Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, and Peru will take effect 60 days after those countries complete domestic ratification procedures.

Q3: My Australian-based business wants to export our products to a CPTPP Party. How can I find out the CPTPP preferential tariff for my product? What happens if the tariff for my good is better under another FTA agreement?

The best place to look is the FTA Portal. The FTA Portal is a user-friendly Australian Government website that provides easy access to information for exporters, importers, and other stakeholders seeking to access the benefits from all of Australia’s Free Trade Agreements. The FTA Portal is the easiest way to determine the preferential FTA tariff rate on your product. It is searchable by key word or HS code (Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System), and contains current and future tariff rates for both imports and exports. The FTA Portal also contains information about whether your product is likely to meet Rule of Origin requirements.

You can also check all CPTPP Tariff Elimination Schedules by country, available in the CPTPP section of our website (CPTPP official documents).

Q4: What happens if the tariff for my good is better under another FTA agreement? Do I have to use the CPTPP?

There may be circumstances where your good has better tariff treatment under another FTA which Australia has with a CPTPP Party. For example, Australia has the following existing preferential trade agreements with Japan, Chile, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and New Zealand (all CPTPP Parties), as well as ASEAN:

  • Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement
  • ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA
  • Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement
  • Australia-Chile FTA
  • Malaysia-Australia FTA
  • Singapore-Australia FTA

Traders should assess whether it is more advantageous to trade under the preferential CPTPP tariff rate, under the current MFN applied tariff or through a separate FTA that Australia has with the Party. You can use the FTA Portal to compare the tariff rate for your good across multiple FTAs. Where Australia and a CPTPP Party are members of another FTA, unless the other FTA or the CPTPP say otherwise, it is a commercial decision for businesses to decide which agreement they will use. Importers and exporters have the option of selecting which agreement is best suited to them.

Q5: What is an HS Code and how can I find out the HS Code for my product?

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (or HS Code) is an internationally recognised system for categorising traded goods, used by all countries as the basis for classifying trade. It allows the customs authority of the importing country to classify your good and determine what tariff will apply to that good. The customs authority in the importing country will determine the HS Code of your good. If you already export to a CPTPP Party, you (or your customs broker) should already have the HS Code. To find the HS Code, you can check the FTA Portal by searching via key words. You can use the FTA Portal whether you are importing into or exporting from Australia.

In Australia, importers need to self-assess the correct tariff classification of goods they import. For importers, the online tariff at the ABF tariff classification website is a further resource that can help determine the correct classification for goods imported to Australia for an import declaration. In addition, the tariff advice service run by the Australian Border Force provides advice free of charge on goods you intend to import to Australia.

Q6: What certification documentation do I need to claim preferential tariff treatment under CPTPP?

Under CPTPP, an importer may make a claim for preferential tariff treatment based on a Certification of Origin completed by an exporter, producer, or importer. However, for imports into Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru and Viet Nam, a Certification of Origin completed by the importer shall be implemented no later than five years after their respective dates of entry into force of the CPTPP. You should check with your importer or customs broker to confirm Certification of Origin requirements when exporting to a CPTTP Party.

There is no requirement for third party certification or certification by an authorised body. The Certification of Origin does not need to follow a prescribed format, however, it must be in writing (which can include electronic format) and must contain a set of minimum data requirements as set out in Chapter 3, Annex 3-B of the CPTPP (CPTPP Chapter 3 Rules of Origin).

As there is no prescribed format, the Certification of Origin can be presented in a variety of ways, including on the consignment invoice, a company letterhead or a Certification of Origin template. The Guide to Using CPTPP to Export and Import Goods provides examples of how an importer, exporter or producer can make a claim for preferential tariff treatment including a sample Certification of Origin template.

Q7: I am still unsure if the product I am importing/exporting is eligible for the preferential tariff treatment under CPTPP.

If you are unsure about the preferential treatment of your good, you may ask for an advance ruling from the importing country’s customs authority. Advance rulings are binding and will provide you with greater certainty in how your product will be treated under CPTPP.

Australian exporters may seek advance rulings from the CPTPP Party’s relevant customs authority. Your importer or customs broker may be able to assist you with this process. If you are importing goods into Australia and would like an advance ruling, please contact the Department of Home Affairs. The Department will provide written advice, upon request, for determining whether the good is CPTPP originating for the purposes of claiming preference. The Application for Advance Ruling (Origin) form will allow you to apply for an advance ruling.

Q8: Can I make a retrospective claim?

Yes. Under CPTPP, importers are entitled to apply for a refund of any excess duties paid, if the goods met CPTPP’s Rules of Origin at the time of import and would have qualified for preferential tariff treatment.

Australian importers need a valid Certification of Origin at the time of seeking a refund, which they can complete themselves provided they have sufficient evidence that the goods were CPTPP originating goods. In the absence of a Certification of Origin, they will need to provide the Department of Home Affairs with sufficient documentation to prove that the goods are CPTPP originating goods.

Importers have at least one year to apply for a refund of any excess duties paid or a longer period if specified in the importing Party’s law. In Australia, refunds can be claimed for up to 4 years after the date of importation.

Q9: I am importing goods into Australia, which is being shipped and will placed in a bonded warehouse prior to entry into force (30 December 2018) of the CPTPP. Will I be able claim preferential tariff treatment on my good after 30 December 2018?

Yes, you are able to claim preferential tariff treatment from 30 December 2018 on goods that arrive into Australia prior to this date as long as the goods remain under customs control (within the bonded warehouse) and are not released into home consumption.

The goods must also meet the relevant Rules of Origin to qualify as CPTPP originating from a Party or Parties that have ratified the Agreement and entered it into force. For example, CPTPP originating goods can arrive from Canada prior to 30 December 2018 and be held under customs control until 30 December 2018. If the importer wants to import the goods for home consumption on or after this date, the importer would be able to make a claim for preferential tariff treatment for the goods under CPTPP.

For exports from Australia to other CPTPP Parties, you will need to seek advice from the relevant importing country customs authority. Your customs broker may be able to assist you with this process.

Q10: My goods are being transported by road through the US from Canada, to be loaded on a ship (in the US) for export to Australia. The goods did not undergo any further operation. Can I claim preferential tariff treatment if the US is not a Party to CPTPP?

You will be able to claim preferential tariff treatment on the goods if you can demonstrate to the Department of Home Affairs that the goods you are importing:

  • did not undergo any operation outside the territories of the Parties other than:
    • unloading
    • reloading
    • separation from a bulk shipment
    • storing
    • labelling or marking required by the importing Party, or
    • any other operation necessary to preserve it in good condition or to transport the good to the territory of the importing Party, and
  • remained under the control of the customs authority in the territory of a non-Party.

If these conditions are not met, the benefits of the CPTPP for transhipment will not apply. CPTPP is designed to reflect modern trading practices, including the use of transport and distribution hubs in non-Parties for consignments of goods. A good will be able to retain its originating status, despite being transported through a non-Party if it meets the conditions mentioned above. You will need to work with your trader or customs broker to ensure these requirements are met, if you intend to claim the preferential tariff treatment.

Q.11: I am regularly importing identical goods into Australia from a CPTPP Party. What does Australia consider an identical good?

A Certification of Origin is valid for one year after the date of issue and can apply to a single shipment of a good or multiple shipments of identical goods within any period specified in the Certification of Origin, but not exceeding 12 months.

For the purposes of multiple shipments, ‘identical goods’ means goods that meet the same Rule of Origin and the same six digit HS code. For example, a plain cotton shirt and checked shirt could be considered identical despite the pattern and potential size difference if the Rule of Origin and HS Code are the same. Goods that are claimed to be ‘identical’ but that meet different Rules of Origin (e.g. one set of goods meet the RVC build up method, and another set meets the RVC build down method) cannot be considered as identical. Likewise, if the claimed ‘identical goods’ do not match the description of the Certification of Origin, they must then match the Rule of Origin and the six digit HS Code under a blanket period Certification of Origin.

For exports from Australia to other CPTPP Parties, you should seek advice from the relevant importing country customs authority. Your customs broker may be able to assist you.

Further information

DFAT’s website has a range of documents on outcomes across the CPTPP. These resources include the official chapters, annexes, and schedules as well as summary documents, and infographics. DFAT has also developed a Guide to Using CPTPP to Export and Import Goods, which provides more information to step you through the importing/exporting process. If you have any further enquiries, you can email us at tpp@dfat.gov.au

For more specific and detailed information on claiming preferential tariff treatment for CPTPP originating goods imported into Australia, the Department of Home Affairs publishes a guide and other information materials to assist importers. These are available from Australian Border Force at the ABF CPTPP website.

Last Updated: 24 December 2018