As of the 1st of January 2018, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will cease the “soft start” audit period. Penalties for non-compliance will apply after this date.The penalty for breaching the Act are as much as 5 years in jail and fines of 500 penalty units which in 2017 were equivalent to AUD $105,000.00.The AFA has completed the development of the AFA Timber Due Diligence System, to assist Members with meeting their compliance requirements.
Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions, which anyone importing Timber furniture or furnishing products should read to determine if they will be required to perform Due Diligence on imported products.
Illegal Logging Regulation: Frequently Asked Questions.
1. When was the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act introduced?
A. The Illegal logging act and the illegal logging regulation were introduced in 2012. From 1 January 2018 the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources will cease the “soft start” audit period. Penalties for non-compliance will apply after this date.
2. How do I know if I am affected by the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act, 2012?
A. All importers of timber or timber containing products are affected by the Act. This includes the high-risk sector of furniture and furnishing products. The Act makes it illegal to import illegally logged timber products into Australia. It also makes it illegal to process illegally logged timber from Australia.
You are REQUIRED to undertake a Due Diligence process if your imported product is a regulated product listed in Schedule 1 of the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation, 2012.
3. I import a product that contains two different timber species. How do I conduct my Due Diligence?
A. The only way to conduct the Due Diligence on this product is to conduct separate processes on each species.
4. I have been told that I need to document my Due Diligence process. How can I do this?
A. We recommend you read the Due Diligence Guidance Document prepared by AFA. The AFA Due Diligence Guidance Template Kit can then be edited to suit your specific business needs. You can then implement the process recommended by the Due Diligence Guidance Document to maintain any records that are created.
5. Who is responsible for carrying out of Due Diligence for our imported products?
A. The regulation specifies that the IMPORTER should carry out the Due Diligence process. It is up to the business to nominate someone. As a guide the person should have a good knowledge of the products and the importation process as well as the requirements of the illegal logging legislation. Your customs broker CANNOT undertake the Due Diligence Assessment for you.
6. I am importing some furniture parts with the tariff code 9403.90.00-OTHER FURNITURE AND PARTS THEREOF: – Parts. They are made from plastic. Why have I been asked by my Customs Broker to complete the community protection question (CPQ)?
A. You are being asked to complete the CPQ because the parts that are being imported may be made from wood, so the tariff code is flagged for the CPQ to be asked. The best way to deal with this issue is to identify if the product is exempt and make a record of it in your Due Diligence System. There is a form that you can use in the AFA Due Diligence Template (Appendix 3). You should also authorise your Customs Broker to answer “yes” to the CPQ.
7. I have asked my supplier for information regarding the products that they supply me but they have not provided all the information. What should I do?
A. You should ask them again and if they cannot supply the information then you must make an assessment of the risk that the product that they supply may contain illegally logged timber. Just because they cannot supply the information does NOT absolve you from carrying out the risk assessment. It simply makes it harder for you to make an assessment that the product is low risk of containing Illegal logged timber. If you cannot reach a conclusion that the product is low risk, you should consider other risk mitigation options such as CHANGING SUPPLIERS.
8. What should I do if the information provided by my supplier is unclear or inconsistent?
A. It is important to note that you as the importer have the responsibility to perform due diligence and only import those goods and materials where evidence is provided confirming these materials are low risk of containing illegal timber. If clear and objective evidence is not provided, and you import these materials, you may be breaching the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act and be subject to the penalties prescribed in the Act.
9. What are the non-compliance penalties for breaching the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act?
A. Currently the penalty for breaching the Act are as much as 5 years in jail and fines of 500 penalty units which in 2017 were equivalent to AUD $105,000.00
10. If the importer informs the customs broker via email or verbally confirms they don’t use illegally logged timber, is this enough evidence of due diligence?
A. From the Customs Brokers perspective , it is best to get the details in writing authorising them to answer “yes” to the CPQ. There is a form in the AFA Due Diligence System Template Kit for this. The authorisation should make it clear what products are covered and for how long the authorisation is in place. For example: Is it for this consignment only? or for the next 6 months? The Customs Broker does not need to do any more. If the Importer does not carry out suitable Due Diligence the breach of the Act or Regulation is the Importers responsibility.
11. What are the regulated tariff codes and regulated timber products and exemptions?
A. Regulated timber products and tariff codes are listed in Schedule 1 of the Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012.
12. Where can I get further help regarding the Illegal logging legislation if I need it?