Australian Trusted Trader (ATT) program

INTERNATIONAL trade is always transforming with the globalisation of supply chains, emerging trends and new technologies. Australia is responding to these changes and, in many ways, leading the way for businesses to achieve a competitive edge on the world stage.
One of the significant initiatives of late is the Australian Trusted Trader (ATT) program, which sets a new benchmark by accrediting businesses that can demonstrate both secure supply chains and trade compliant practices. ATT is administered by the Department of Home Affairs with the Australian Border Force (ABF) and provides importers and exporters some significant benefits leading to savings and a seamless border experience, largely without interference or unnecessary delay.
In just two years ATT has gone from strength to strength, with savings of $3.2bn to Australian industry estimated over the 10-year period to 2025. The program now has 200 accredited Trusted Traders, up from 71 last year, with a steady increase in the volume and value of two-way trade conducted by these traders.
Mutual Recognition Arrangements are a key driver for growing the Trusted Trader cohort. MRAs alone are estimated to realise savings of $2.38bn over the 10 years of the program. Over the past 12 months considerable effort has been put into enhancing the uptake of MRA agreements with Australia’s largest trading partners. MRAs have been established with New Zealand, China, the South Korea, Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore. Preparations for MRAs with the US, Japan and Thailand, among other partner countries, are underway.
Seven new benefits were implemented in this past year, doubling the number of benefits available to Trusted Traders, and worth 10 times the benefits available to Trusted Traders in 2016-17 according to independent economic analysis. These benefits included streamlined access to the Temporary Skilled Shortage visa, streamlined access to the APEC Business Travel Card and Consolidated Cargo Clearance as well as benefits related to MRAs.
So how do we know these savings really do exist and that the program is valued by Trusted Traders? Looking at accredited Trusted Traders only in 2017, there were around 4.2m deliverable consignments received by air and sea cargo containers. Trusted Trader sea cargo will soon see the elimination of unnecessary delays at the border meaning Trusted Traders’ goods will get to market quicker and the Department and ABF can redirect resources to areas that really do pose a risk to our economy and border.
Trusted Traders are given premium service by virtue of their accreditation. Their participation is valued including any suggestions for change and improvement with this being seen as a partnership to drive a better trade system. The APEC Business Travel Card initiative introduced last year was an idea from a Trusted Trader. Not only does this represent a saving in visa costs for business, it also results in time saving for staff. This supports a better reach in the Asia-Pacific markets.
The ABF Account Manager provides business support relevant to their needs. For example, Shell Australia recently imported a world-first floating liquid natural gas (FLNG) facility, also the world’s largest floating object, which is now being commissioned offshore in Western Australia.
The support provided by the account manager saved several days of delay and associated costs on importation. Shell’s account manager co-ordinated a number of ABF areas and liaised with the Australian Taxation Office to expedite the clearance process for the importation. In addition, assistance was given around the direct payment of duties, coordination with Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and Department of Industry, assistance with visa enquiries and specialised assistance with valuation and permit requirements and import management of large bulk importations direct to the FLNG facility during the commissioning phase.
Additional ATT benefits
With a plan to implement more benefits and to ensure the ATT program is one that is recognised as world’s best practice, on 8 August minister for law enforcement and cyber security Angus Taylor announced five new benefits at the annual ATT Symposium. The new benefits include:
Duty deferral: improving cashflow and reducing delays by enabling Trusted Traders who defer GST to be able to defer the payment of some customs duties on goods.
Origin advance ruling: a special advance ruling exclusively for Trusted Traders who import goods under the China-Australia Free-Trade Agreement (ChAFTA). Preliminary estimates by one Trusted Trader in the pilot indicate that they could save up to $1.6m each year due to reduced payments for the Certificates of Origin and time spent doing the paperwork. The ruling will be applied to multiple tariff classifications and rules of origin criterion.
Full implementation of the South Korea MRA: improving predictability, certainty, and speed to market for Trusted Traders through an agreement between Korean and Australian customs administrations. Now the MRA has been fully implemented, Trusted Traders will receive priority treatment of goods at the border through expedited clearance, reduced documentation and cargo inspections, and minimised disruption to trade flows.
Implementation of a unique Trader Identification Number (TIN): making it easier and more effective for Trusted Traders to be recognised by MRA partners – reducing red tape and improving the efficiency of the border clearance process. This requires standardisation of numbers globally and acceptance of the TIN by the systems used by MRA partners.
An even lighter touch at the border: providing faster border clearance for Trusted Traders in recognition of the lower risk that they present. This will enable the Department and ABF to have a greater focus on areas of greater or unknown risks.
The other good news is that the previously onerous application and validation process to become a Trusted Trader has been simplified and streamlined which means on average, application times have come down 95% and most business can be accredited within 60 days of application.
Through partnership with industry, ATT gives Australian businesses a competitive edge and helps secure Australia’s border. The Department of Home Affairs and ABF are committed to further improving and growing the program while keeping it relevant to business.
To learn if ATT is right for your business visit

ABF Commissioner Michael Outram (far left) and minister for law enforcement and cyber security Angus Taylor (far right) present Cos Breglia and Steven Burge from Keys Freight and Logistics with their ATT globe at the annual ATT Symposium.

* Tim Fitzgerald is assistant secretary, Trusted Trader and Trade Services, Department of Home Affairs
This article appeared in the September edition of DCN Magazine
Categories:Asia, Australia, DCN Magazine, International, International Trade, Law & Regulation, New Zealand & Pacific Islands