Fri, Jun 01, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Amazon global sites block Australians


Protesters carry a cutout depicting founder Jeff Bezos as a robot near the firm’s annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday in Seattle, Washington.

Photo: AP

US Internet giant Inc is to block Australian shoppers from its international Web sites to counter new tax laws on online purchases, it announced yesterday.

New rules require Internet retailers to collect a 10 percent goods and services tax (GST) on everything bought from overseas sites from July 1, including under the current tax-free threshold of A$1,000 (US$758).

As a result, Amazon said that Australian shoppers wanting to use its global platforms would instead be directed to its smaller Australian site, which offers much less for sale.

Amazon reportedly baulked at the massive administrative burden of tracking GST from all overseas transactions.

“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 international sites,” it said in a statement.

The retailer said it would compensate by opening a “global store” for Australians, adding an extra 4 million items previously available only on its US Web site.

“This will allow us to provide our customers with continued access to [our] international selection and remain compliant with the law,” it said.

Even with the changes, the number of products available would be a fraction of what is on sale globally.

The new tax rules were made after years of lobbying by struggling local retailers, which have to apply GST to all online and store sales.

Low consumer confidence and tepid wage growth have also hit traditional brick-and-mortar retail operations.

Amazon only launched a local Australian site in December last year, shipping from a warehouse in Melbourne with another planned in Sydney.

It had about A$1 billion in sales from Australia annually through shipping from overseas ahead of the launch, according to Morgan Stanley analysts.

The new laws “level the playing field for Australian businesses,” Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison said.

“The government doesn’t apologize for ensuring multinationals pay a fair amount of tax here in Australia,” he added.

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