The manufacturer explains why he asked for the revocation of the tariff concession on the glasses

The price concession on acetate frames had been in place for nearly 19 years. Image: Optex Australia.

The Australian frame maker that pushed for the removal of a 5% tariff concession enjoyed by importers of acetate eyewear has detailed the reasons for its decision, hoping it will inspire people to stop and think about options of local manufacture.

Optex Australia, which manufactures frames from high-quality materials and recyclable acetates in a purpose-built production facility in Port Macquarie, NSW, has successfully sought the revocation of Tariff Concession Order (TCO) 0315725, published by the Australian Border Force (ABF) on July 13, 2022.

The initial tariff concession on eyewear meant that importers of acetate frames were exempt from paying a rate of duty in Australia. It has been in place since December 2003, and a submission from the Optical Distributors and Manufacturers Association (ODMA) at the time can be viewed here. Interestingly, Optex Eyewear (under a different owner at the time) objected to the creation of the TCO in 2004, before withdrawing this request.

According to ABF, TCOs are an Australian government revenue concession that exist where there are no known Australian manufacturers of goods substitutable for imported goods. There are approximately 15,000 TCOs in Australia.

But following a request from Optex Australia, ABF revoked the TCO this month. This now means that importers of acetate frames from certain jurisdictions will now have to pay the full rate of duty of 5%. A similar TCO for metal spectacle frames (TCO 0315708) may also suffer the same fate.

“The revocation is effective from May 13, 2022, but provisions apply if the goods were already in transit to Australia on that day,” ABF said. Insight.

“Once the TCO is revoked, importers will pay the 5% duty rate unless they qualify for other concessions.”

Optex Australia explains its decision

Optex Australia is one of the few eyewear manufacturers in Australia, which also includes companies such as Dresden Eyewear which makes frames from recycled and recyclable materials, Ven Eyes which produces 3D printed frames and a handful of handcrafted eyewear makers .

Mr. Greg French, Managing Director of Optex Australia, said Insight that manufacturing in Australia was finding it increasingly difficult to remain competitive in the face of many international jurisdictions where products were allowed to be manufactured under trade arrangements different from what is required and expected in Australia.

Optex is 100% Australian owned and has a long history of almost 60 years, dating back to 1963 in Melbourne. Image: Optex Australia.

“The proposed rate will not make a monetary difference to my business. Australia has successfully negotiated free trade agreements in many eyewear manufacturing regions around the world. In each of these countries, the proposed TCO is irrelevant and has no effect,” he said.

“What TCO offers a local manufacturer is people to stop and think about engaging local options. Like many local manufacturers, we have had to diversify our interests and capabilities in order to compete and remain viable in a growing landscape of mass-produced eyewear that is not produced under the same restrictions and laws of place of work that we all expect from manufacturing companies. with here in Australia.

“Naturally, the total cost of ownership can have an impact on some small importers. This is something that concerns me and may require further consultation, further discussion and review between [ABF] and the parties involved.

French said Australia has amazing talented artisans, artisans and engineers who should all be able to come together to design, collaborate and produce their ideas locally.

Asked if revoking the eyewear tariff concession was fair, given that demand for acetate eyewear meant it could not be fully met by local producers, he said he s was “a very narrow view of the decision”.

Manufacturing is where science and technology, creative ideas, collaboration and design meet. The issue is not fairness or the fact that one manufacturer expects to produce all eyewear in Australia,” French said.

“It’s about understanding, valuing and supporting local manufacturing. Australia has many highly skilled engineering and manufacturing capabilities in a wide range of different and exciting industries, especially in our rural areas. The jobs and innovation this creates prevent talented minds from being attracted abroad and/or leaving our industry. These skills are valued in our industry and can all be used to contribute to the development of exciting new eyewear that will allow us to become increasingly independent and competitive.

What happens next?

Under Section 269SH of the Customs Act 1901, parties affected by the TCO decision have the option of requesting an internal review.

The request for reconsideration must be in writing, include the grounds on which the person objects to the decision, and be submitted no later than 28 days after publication in the Official Gazette to the Tariff Concessions Order team at [email protected] abf.gov.au.

Further details on the tariff concession system can be found here.

The ODMA has been approached for comment but has yet to respond.

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