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HomeminewsMore Tariff Pain for Frame Distributors

More Tariff Pain for Frame Distributors

A tariff concession order (TCO) covering metal spectacle frames is to be revoked, causing more pain for frame distributors, the Optical Distributors and Manufacturers Association (ODMA) has warned.

ODMA said the intention to revoke tariff concession order TC 0315708 was gazetted on 24 May.

“While this news is not entirely unexpected, it is very frustrating and I feel for frames suppliers that are already facing many rising costs,” ODMA CEO Amanda Trotman said.

The Australian Border Force (ABF) last year revoked the TCO for plastic spectacle frames that had been in place since 2003. This decision was made following an application from a small Australian eyewear manufacturer that, according to ODMA, has a production capacity in the low thousands.

it is very frustrating and I feel for frames suppliers that are already facing many rising costs

ODMA said the effect of revoking the TCO means the $4 billion optical dispensing and eyewear industry, which sells an estimated 5m+ frames each year, is now faced with a 5%t tariff on millions of frames imported annually.

“This decision has, after decades of nil tariffs for the industry, increased costs for retailers and consumers, exacerbating cost of living pressures on the millions of Australians who use optical products, as well as putting upward pressure on inflation,” ODMA said in a media statement.

Updates Requested

Ms Trotman said the Customs Delegate took a very broad view on what constituted producing substitutable goods, so the latest move was anticipated after the 2022 decision to revoke the concession on plastic frames.

ODMA is still waiting on an update from the Minister of Home Affairs Office despite multiple requests, she said.

ODMA was advised that the Department has requested that ABF further explain the decision it made in 2022 (beyond its appeal response), and that an update would then be provided.

“We have been keeping ODMA members updated on the matter and encouraged members to themselves write to the Minister’s office. As recently as last week another letter was sent to the Minister of Home Affairs instigated by an ODMA member via a federal Member of Parliament,” Ms Trotman said.

ODMA said it would now look to appeal and seek further regulatory advice on other avenues to pursue.

She said this could include a broader, consumer-focussed media campaign on the situation given costs often have to be passed on to those selling the eyewear and ultimately the consumer.

Detrimental Impact

ODMA is concerned that these revocation decisions create significant additional red tape and uncertainly for its members who are now faced with further administrative burdens when determining which products and countries the tariff applies to.

“It is ODMA’s view that the reimposition of these tariffs does little to nothing to assist Australian industry and is to the detriment of Australian consumers.”

ODMA said its work on the European Union Free Trade Agreement (EU-FTA) continues to help ensure that this agreement will nullify any tariffs imposed by Border Force.

ODMA said its primary interest regarding a potential EU-FTA concerns the 5% tariff that Australia applies to imports of multiple categories of frames and mountings for spectacles, and complete spectacles such as sunglasses. Most optical frames sold in Australia are imported, with most of these from the EU.