Many auto manufacturers, such as Toyota, have announced during the past few months that they're planning on shutting down their auto manufacturing plants that are based in Australia in the upcoming years. Despite the fact that automobile production has been occurring for over 100 years, many companies are finding it more financially beneficial to produce their cars elsewhere that they sell in Australia.
As a direct response to this, the Australian government has reviewed its Motor Vehicles Standards Act. For a long time, their regulations were that any imported car, whether it was new or used, were required to adhere to certain strict regulations. This didn't include the majority of cars that were produced prior to 1989, however. These regulations were in regards to certain standards concerning fuel emissions, safety, and security, as well as design regulations known as the Australian Design Rules. These strict regulations are what partly led to automakers deciding to open up their own plants in Australia.
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Now, there have been some proposed changes that have been made regarding the Standards Act in Australia. These proposed changes are quite significant and have the potential to vastly overhaul the import and export environment in the country.
The main proposed changes are the following:
- Cars can be more liberally imported. As of now, the aforementioned restrictions means that it's very hard for Australian residents to import cars, but this proposed change would make the restrictions less strict, meaning that people can look to overseas sources for vehicles that are better priced.
- Decrease the amount of import duties that have to be paid on new cars, which will include luxury vehicles.
- Allow Australian residents to purchase any vehicle that adheres to the UN safety standards. In this proposal, consumers would be expected to save on compliance and tariff fees, with the tariff fees being formulated based upon the particular free trade agreement that Australia has with a country.
The main concerns that opponents of these proposed changes have is in regards to the safety standards of the vehicles that could be imported. Australia's regulations are so strict that cars that have 6 airbags in other countries have to have 8 airbags in the Australian model. Opponents fear that this could lead to a plethora of vehicles coming in that are not as good in quality as what's currently available in Australia.
The debate is still ongoing, with much of the focus now being on what these new import standards would consist of. The writing seems written on the wall though in that Australia can't continue to have these strict regulations in place, evident in how automakers have announced planned shutdowns of their Australian plants within the next few years.
Nonetheless, if these proposed changes pass, as they are gaining a great deal of momentum, the import market in Australia will explode in popularity, meaning that there will be many opportunities for automakers and dealerships to export cars to Australia, as the demand will be quite high.
Time will tell if this is the case!