Bicycle Industries Australia (BIA) publish figures on overseas purchasing as they announce support in lowering the tax free threshold for imports. BIA are part of the Fair Imports Alliance which is specifically targeting this issue – and the support is seen as one step to make the local cycling industry more competitive.
BIA quote a 120% increase in overseas purchases of bicycle products in the past 18 months and that 16% of bicycles products are now purchased overseas. The industry feel let down by the government and fear that another taskforce or panel will just draw out the problem where immediate action is required.
BIA support the Productivity Commission’s recommendation to decrease the low value import threshold for goods purchased offshore, to provide tax neutrality in Australia. The draft report also highlighted the inefficiencies of customs and international parcel handling in processing incoming freight into Australia, noting the need to improve these inefficiencies before the threshold is lowered.
The BIA argue that a lack of change will see increased unemployment and argue that there may not be an industry by the time the government makes a decision. On the otherside it has been widely argued that lowering or eliminating the tax free threshold would be cost more that the income that could be generated. Furthermore a poll in the Australian Cycling Forums with 113 participants showed that event with 10% added GST on imports, this was not likely to alter the purchasing patterns of 88% of respondents, 6% were uncertain and only 6% said they were likely to stop purchasing overseas.
The BIA chairman, David Cramer concludes “The bicycle sector is made of mainly small independent suppliers and retailers, we do not have the reserves ‘to ride’ out this current trend until the government finally corrects the advantage they have given to offshore sellers” Mr. Cramer concluded.
The same small independent suppliers and retailers should also take caution and see this as only one part of the ‘problem’, consumer habits and expectations are shifting as technology plays an increasing role in daily life.