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Export / Import Information for Small Business Owners in Australia

International Trade Law

International Export Law is defined by Cornell University Law School as,

“The mixture of domestic and international law as it pertains to trade across national boundaries.”

International export law sums up all of the trade laws of the country of origin, as well as the destination country. Certain products may require special packaging, such as food or beverage items. Financial terms between buyer and exporter must adhere to the international standard.

Perhaps most important, however, when speaking of international export law is the subject of tariffs. A tariff is basically an expense added to the product when it arrives in its destination country as an import. These fees must be paid or the goods will sit on the dock, unable to reach your buyer.

There are many, many reasons for tariffs and they apply to different products depending on several factors. Tariffs are sometimes used to protect domestic interests by protecting the importing government's revenue and competition with that particular product.

For example, say you manufacture LCD computer monitors in Australia, and export them to Japan. Japan already has a huge market as many of these items are already made there. However, you are selling your monitors at a very low price to spark interest. A tariff could be imposed on your exports by customs officials regulated by the government when they arrive in Japan.

Other reasons for tariffs are to effectively prohibit certain unwanted products from being imported, or to likewise prohibit certain countries from being able to import their products. These types of tariffs are known as “prohibitive” tariffs and are usually so astronomically high that the country of origin will not bother to export there any longer.

With the advent of the World Trade Organization comes a less restrictive form of tariff system, and some believe an abolishing of the tariff altogether.

You can find more information about international export law at the following resources online:

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Getting Started with Exporting

Government Export Assistance

Export Services

Trade Data

Australia's Trade Agreements -

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