02 June, 2018
USA internet giant Amazon will block Australian shoppers from its global websites to counter new tax laws on online purchases, it announced Thursday.
At issue is the Australian government's long-held (and long-criticised) desire to levy GST on all purchases made from overseas vendors, replacing a policy of taxing only imports priced at more than AU$1,000.
Amazon will block Australians from buying from its global e-commerce websites and restrict them to a smaller local platform from July in response to new tax rules that consumer advocates fear will reduce the range of choice for customers in Australia.
In an email to customers on Thursday, the company said from July 1 it would redirect Australian shoppers from its worldwide sites to amazon.com.au where products sold by Amazon US will be available on the new global store. Goods sold on Amazon.com, the U.S. site, will cease shipping to Australia on July 1.
The changes referred to relate to a decision to scrap the previous $1000 threshold for imposing GST on online purchases from overseas.
Retail stocks on the ASX rose following Amazon's announcement.
"While we regret any inconvenience this may cause customers, we have had to assess the workability of the legislation as a global business with multiple worldwide sites", an Amazon spokesman said in a statement today.
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Thankfully, worldwide third-party sellers' storefronts will still be accessible from the Australian Amazon site, although shipping costs on those items will be at the discretion of individual sellers, rather than Amazon itself.
Amazon is launching a global store accessible to Australian customers, where products from its retail site will be available.
"As a result of changes to Australian GST law on 1 July, worldwide shopping options for Australian customers will change".
"This isn't an anti-trade move by the Australian government", he said. "That tax revenue is used to fund essential services", the spokesperson said.
Amazon says its Australian unit offers 60 million products in 23 categories, compared to the more half a billion products on its US site.
"A level playing field will help Australian businesses grow and create more jobs and opportunities", the Treasurer's spokesperson is reported to have said.