“Grey” or “parallel imports” could be available soon in Australia.
“Grey” or “parallel imports” could be available soon in Australia.

Australia could open door to overseas used cars

DOORS could open to second-hand cars from overseas if a Competition Policy Review recommendation is accepted.

The endorsement could see Australia mirror the New Zealand system, where vehicles would be allowed as long as they meet equivalent safety and environmental standards.

These vehicles are knows as "grey" or "parallel imports".

Currently, overseas vehicles can be imported after receiving Australian government approval as long as they meet a range of criteria - the most popular option being classic vehicles manufactured before 1989. 

The recommendation has received widespread condemnation from the automotive industry concerned about vehicle quality, parts availability and flooding the Australian market which will reduce values of current vehicles.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries also has "serious reservations about the government's resourcing capacity to adequately police, at the time of importation and subsequently, the safety of used vehicles including compliance with the standards that applied when the vehicle was built and the continued compliance with such standards following any modifications or repair".

In its submission to the review panel, Ford Australia said there is the chance of significant reputation damage to brands and dealers operating legitimately in Australia from consumers who personally import new vehicles not sold in Australia but expect them to service and repair these vehicles.

"A lack of replacement parts, suitable diagnostic equipment, specialised tools and trained technicians may lead to significant dissatisfaction when consumers have the expectation that their vehicle will be maintained and supported by the dealers and brand of their vehicle operating in Australia," Ford said.

The final report was delivered yesterday by Professor Ian Harper, which said:

"Parallel import restrictions are similar to other import restrictions (such as tariffs) in that they benefit local producers by shielding them from international competition. They are effectively an implicit tax on Australian consumers and businesses. The Panel notes that the impact of changing technology means that these restrictions are more easily circumvented. Removing parallel import restrictions would promote competition and potentially lower prices of many consumer goods, while concerns raised about parallel imports (such as consumer safety, counterfeit products and inadequate enforcement) could be addressed directly through regulatory and compliance frameworks and consumer education campaigns."

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