In this new series, we will break down the process of how to import goods into Australia from various countries. The first post in the series focuses on Thailand, one of the biggest exporters in the ASEAN region.
Thailand is the second-biggest economy in ASEAN and a major global tourism destination. This dynamic and consumer-driven market with rising disposable income and huge visitor market of around 35 million is increasing its demand for imported food and beverages, offering many opportunities for Australian exporters.
Thailand shipped US$236 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017, up by 3.3% since 2013 and up by 10.5% from 2016 to 2017. Thailand's exports to Australia amounted to $10.5 billion or 4.44% of its overall exports. Some of the top exports to Australia from Thailand include:
- Vehicles: $5.8 billion
- Machinery: $1.2 billion
- Plastics: $539.9 million
- Gems, precious metals: $368.9 million
- Meat, seafood preparations: $296.5 million
- Rubber: $255.1 million
- Electronic equipment: $196.4 million
- Iron or steel products: $150 million
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $130.6 million
- Cereal, milk preparations:$106.1 million
How to import goods from Thailand to Australia
As with any country, in order to import to Australia, there are several steps that you should follow to get your product to market in Australia. Here are some general guidelines for importing from Thailand in particular.
1. Find your product & supplier
Of course, this is a pretty obvious one. Do your research into what products you would be likely to be importing into Australia, and research suppliers in Thailand that are able to meet the requirements for your products. However, keep in mind that Australia has very strict biosecurity laws, and therefore any food and perishables are likely to be much more difficult to import, not to mention them being a highly saturated genre of products.
2. Discuss terms of trading with your supplier
Your terms of trading could determine how much responsibility you may have with your cargo. Read about our Incoterms and why this is so important to establish from the get-go with your secured supplier. Once your product and contract is signed, it is much harder to renegotiate these terms. On the other hand, if your supplier are unable to extend logistical help, find an exporting agent or freight forwarder that can help you navigate the clearance procedures for each type of incoterm.
3. Understand the various regulations, tariffs, and licenses you need to export.
The Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) has eliminated tariffs on most products imported from Australia including food, with the exception of beef, cheese, some dairy ingredients and potato seeds. You may be eligible for the terms of the FTA, and therefore be exempt of any tariffs or duties or be able to claim them once your products have been cleared in Australia.
Food imports in Australia must meet Australian food standards. Commercial importers of food such as fresh fruit and vegetables or food containing milk, egg, meat or other animal products may need to obtain an import permit prior to importing the food. You can do initial checks for biosecurity requirements by searching the Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON).
Find out if your product has any compliance requirements, e.g. wood products must be fumigated and treated, and keep these in mind while arranging your cargo transport.
4. Arranging transport for your cargo ahead of time.
If you are importing in peak season (October - January), it is important that you arrange for your cargo transport well ahead of time. Read this blog post for more tips to prepare for peak season trading.
Depending on the nature of your goods, many options may be available for transporting your cargo. As a rule of thumb, if you are a beginner importer, it is best to go with a reliable courier such as DHL, TNT, etc. while you build your market volume. If you are a seasoned importer, freight forwarders and 3PL are a great way to improve your profitability and reduce freight costs by pooling the 3PL's resources and leveraging their economies of scale.
To determine what type of transport is best for your cargo, download our Beginners to Freight Forwarding guide.
While speaking to your freight forwarder, it is important to give them the right information so they can arrange the best route and transport options for you. For instance, seafood importers must be able to obtain an import permit and will undergo strict inspection procedures in Australia, therefore this information must be obtained before approaching a freight forwarder.
5. Distribute and market your product in Australia
In order to have a success import venture to Australia, your goods must reach the hands of the consumers in the right place, under the right circumstances. Finding retailers and stockists of your products to get your products in the hands of Australians will be crucial to your business plan. Do your research into the target market and where they are hanging out in order to effectively market your product.
Having a 3PL to deal with warehousing and distribution can save huge headaches when it comes to distributing your goods. As seasoned freight forwarders, we also find having the same 3PL as your customs clearance effectively streamlines your entire process and improve your bottom line, and also frees up your time to deal with important business stuff.
Final words for Thailand exporters to Australia
Thailand is growing and becoming one of the largest import countries to Australia. The country is a regional and global food manufacturer, particularly for tuna, prawns and chicken. Thai Union Frozen is the world’s largest processor of seafood products. Thailand is home to one of the biggest agribusiness conglomerates, the Charoen Pokphand Group (CP), which has extensive investments and production in over 20 countries. Sourcing and importing products from Thailand can bring a wealth of income and diversification to your business.
At Whale Logistics Australia, we are award-winning multi-tier freight forwarders. We are able to offer our clients a full freight service that includes import/export, customs clearance, 3PL, and warehousing and distribution. We are proud to be Australian-owned, service-focused, translating to highly satisfied clients. We have been named Excellence in Business, Business of the Year, Employer of the Year, to name a few.
Your export journey from Thailand to Australia starts here. Contact one of our friendly Customer Success Managers to see how we can help to transform your business.