Customs in life sciences

Customs in life sciences

Is your organisation leveraging data to gain insights into customs duty, as well as your patients and customers?

Leonie Ferretter

Partner, Regional ASPAC Leader – Trade & Customs

KPMG Australia


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Patient treatment is becoming increasingly personalised and, as such, more complex. Poor treatment of data means the life sciences industry is at risk of losing sight of how products are effectively used. There is a growing trend towards leveraging alternative data sources to offer treatment insights to the industry in a timely and effective manner.

Similarly, your own organisation’s trade data can be examined to offer insights into whether your organisation is efficiently managing international trade, is significantly over or underpaying customs duty, or is at risk of exposure to penalties.

Customs duty rates are determined by a number of factors. Getting it wrong can be a costly exercise. What is identified as a therapeutic good locally may be identified as a foodstuff in another jurisdiction, and therefore subject to a different duty rate. Additionally, third parties may not be accurately reporting your imports, leading to under or over payment of duty.

Understanding your trade data can:

  • highlight opportunities to claim retrospective refunds
  • identify irregularities and inconsistencies in the data reported to customs authorities
  • identify penalty exposure from underpayments of duty
  • identify high volume trade lanes for freight negotiation.

Questions to consider

  • Have you fully utilised the benefits of Free Trade Agreements and other customs duty concessions?
  • How confident are you that you have correctly identified your products customs identity, given not all definitions are consistent worldwide? 
  • Are customs duty refunds available to the business?
  • Do you have confidence that the declarations made to the government are accurate?
  • Are your brokers and service providers meeting their contractual obligations to you?
  • How are your products valued and is there a way to legally minimise the value to reduce duty liabilities?

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