Border control initiatives working wellAssociate Minister for Food, Fibre, Biosecurity and Border Control
"Recent border control initiatives introduced by Customs are working well and are making life easier for exporters," says Hon David Carter, Associate Minister for Food, Fibre, Biosecurity and Border Control,
"There is no doubt in my mind that Customs is becoming more user-friendly. Recent criticism in the Independent newspaper of Custom's dealings with exporters could not be further from the truth."
The Customs Service is undertaking an Export Strategy in what is the biggest shake-up of export documentation in years, but Mr Carter says this strategy is not at the expense or inconvenience of exporters.
"Its purpose is to assist exporters and if the Independent had done their homework, they would have found that for a number of companies exporting is now simpler under the strategy," said Mr Carter.
"It's simpler because Customs is saying here are the rules, and if you can't meet the deadlines, we'll help you out. They're asking exporters to talk to them more regularly about their needs, and to notify them when they can't get their export entry in on time."
Regulation 28 of the Customs and Excise Regulations 1996 requires exporters to complete export entries for goods, 48 hours before the goods are sent overseas.
This is not a new regulation, but it is one that the Customs Service has administered in the past in a fairly relaxed manner, in recognition that this timeframe poses difficulties for some exporters.
"All the strategy will do in the future is let the Customs Service to know which exporters have difficulty meeting this deadline. Where an exporter cannot meet the deadline, all they need to do is contact Customs and agree on an alternative time in which to lodge their export entry."
"This is hardly red tape or bureaucracy gone mad," said Mr Carter.
The strategy had become necessary because the national export statistics were becoming unreliable through increasing instances of late and inaccurate export entry lodgement.
The skewing of statistics had implications not only for the Government trying to keep track of trade figures, but also for the average home owner, which few people realised, said Mr Carter.
"Statistics New Zealand uses Custom's figures to produce our trade deficit and balance of payments figures. These affect our interest and mortgage rates. So having incorrect statistical information going from Statistics to Treasury, affects Joe Bloggs with his $120,000 mortgage. He could suddenly find 90 day bills rocketing from 6-7 percent to 10-11 percent."
"This is a situation neither exporters or the average home-owner really wants to encourage."
In addition to the strategy the Customs Service is also reducing the red tape for some Trans Tasman exporters with a new initiative which aims to make Customs cargo clearances almost as easy as sending goods from Wellington to Christchurch.
The Trans Tasman Cargo Management Project is being trialled by three high profile New Zealand companies, with other companies queuing up to join the six-month trial. Tait Electronics, Feltex Carpets New Zealand Ltd and Fisher and Paykel have been given the go-ahead to lodge monthly export entries, instead of Customs requiring an entry for each export consignment.
"This is significantly reducing their paperwork, and it's a great example of the pro-active approach of Customs."
"The Customs Service should be congratulated on their efforts to facilitate trade at the border," Mr Carter concluded.