International trade - customs and excise

Bell Gully provide advice on all aspects of international trade law including, customs and excise.

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​​​International trade, including customs and excise law issues can present complicated situations for organisations that carry out cross-border trade into or from New Zealand. This includes trade in goods and services, and cross-border investment and other corporate transactions. New Zealand’s network of international trade agreements of various types has changed considerably over the last decade and it is important that relevant parties are aware of their obligations and entitlements.

Our team advises on all aspects of international trade law, including:

  • bilateral and multilateral trade agreements and investment treaties, 

  • World Trade Organisation law, 

  • customs import duties, 

  • excise duties imposed on locally manufactured products, 

  • customs valuation, 

  • import and local sale regulations (including labelling and packaging requirements), 

  • anti-dumping, 

  • countervailing duties, 

  • temporary safeguards, 

  • rules of origin, 

  • phytosanitary and biosecurity issues, 

  • sanctions and export controls, 

  • anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism law, and 

  • foreign bribery and corruption issues.

In cross border transactions we also deal with regulatory issues such as Overseas Investment Office consent.

Our team comprises specialists from several areas within the firm and draws on a variety of expertise in contract and commercial law, taxation, intellectual property, public policy, litigation and arbitration, environmental law, labour relations, standards, conformance and investment issues.

We can help your organisation, for example, by:

  • identifying import and local sale regulations which may be relevant to your business,

  • advising on the application of free trade agreements and the relevant rules of origin,

  • assisting you with customs valuation issues, including where this has been identified as part of a Customs audit,

  • providing advice on tariff classification and possible preferential duty treatment,

  • advising on the implications of goods and services tax being levied on imports into New Zealand and the possibility of local tax registrations to recover this as a tax credit,

  • identifying controls that may apply to sensitive goods being imported and exported to and from New Zealand,

  • representing your interests in any disputes that may arise, and

  • lobbying for changes to laws or regulations.

We have excellent relationships with a number of international law firms advising significant multinational clients with worldwide operations. We also have contacts within various Governmental departments and in some cases it is useful to discuss controversial aspects with them on a no name basis to get an understanding of the Government’s likely approach.

Excise credit claims
Assisted a manufacturer with an issue that has arisen on its entitlement to claim excise credits. The credits related to stock removed from the manufacturer’s Auckland manufacturing site and sent to Christchurch, but was then subsequently returned to Auckland. The issue involved consideration of the relevant law and meetings with New Zealand Customs.

Various clients vs New Zealand Customs Service
Successfully acted for a number of parties in respect of whom improper entries and contravention of the anti-money laundering legislation was alleged by the New Zealand Customs Service. All seized money has now been returned to our clients and interest paid to them.

Duty credits claim
Advised a local manufacturer on the entitlement to claim duty credits in respect of product removed from a local manufacturing site and then returned for reprocessing or resale.

Customs treatment of drones
Advised an offshore firm on the customs treatment and local regulations applicable to surveillance drones imported for commercial use in New Zealand.

Global restructures
Advised various multinational corporations on the New Zealand Customs and local regulatory implications of proposed global restructures, including valuation aspects, documentation requirements, importer registrations and local product sale regulatory requirements.

Import and manufacture
Advising a number of importers and manufacturers on key aspects of the review of the customs legislation and preparing submissions on behalf of relevant parties.

Assisted various parties with audits by New Zealand Customs on their values adopted for customs duty purposes and whether other payments should have been included in those values. Where applicable, we assist importers with making annual submissions to New Zealand Customs to determine an appropriate uplift that should be applied to the value of current imports.

Successfully applied for rulings and determinations from New Zealand Customs on the tariff classification and application of free trade agreements to imports.

Successfully intervened on a number of occasions where importers have had their goods seized by New Zealand Customs as a result of incorrect import and export procedures. Our assistance led to the relevant goods being returned and the threat of penalties being lifted.

Trade Agreement
Drafted the Rules of Origin for the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement, a trading alliance of South West Pacific Island nations.

Anti-dumping investigations
Acted in many anti-dumping investigations in New Zealand and several offshore. New Zealand investigations have included acting for the local industries and acting for parties manufacturing outside of New Zealand or exporters and importers into New Zealand.

International treaties
Advised a multinational on potential claims against the New Zealand Government under various international treaties in respect of proposed new regulation of consumer goods.

LPG supply agreement
Advised on the customs and excise implications of a sale of LPG from a manufacturer to an exporter.

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  • Willy Sussman

    Partner Auckland
  • Campbell Pentney

    Special Counsel Auckland