The Optical Distributors and Manufacturers Association of Australia (ODMA) has revealed it held private negotiations in an attempt to resolve the revocation of an eyewear tariff concession and is currently reviewing all immediate available alternative courses of action.
In a statement released today, ODMA said it has been working to achieve a solution that would see the best overall result for the whole of the optical industry.
“ODMA is concerned about the effect of the recent revocation of the tariff concession order on plastic optical frames given the current economic climate and the continued importance of the import market in Australia for the supply of optical frames,” the association said.
ODMA was instrumental in gaining the tariff concession for optical frames nearly twenty years ago.
Optex Australia, which manufactures frames from high-quality materials and recyclable acetates at a purpose-built production facility in Port Macquarie, NSW, successfully sought revocation of Tariff Concession Order (TCO) 0315725, gazetted by the Australian Border Force (ABF) on 13 July 2022.
“As soon as ODMA became aware that an application had been made, research was conducted to identify the party involved given that detail was not publicly available,” the association said.
“This was to enable ODMA to take action as soon as possible and to find a solution hopefully before the concession was revoked. On discovery that the party involved was Optex, over the next few weeks, ODMA engaged in multiple discussions and negotiations with Optex to identify a mutually beneficial solution for both local manufacturing and those that import and distribute product. Optex declined the offers made and the revocation was passed.”
As the peak body of optical product wholesalers, manufacturers and importers in Australia, ODMA said it supports the Australian manufacture of frames, and offers various channels – including access to digital and print media as well as live industry events for members or non-members – to help local businesses promote their product and services.
ODMA said it offered Optex access to its various promotional channels in the hope they would provide more benefit than any competitive advantage gained by pursuing the revocation.
“Unfortunately, many ODMA members now find themselves in a situation that will either squeeze their business margins and/or increase the price to retailers and therefore consumers at a time when economic pressures are escalating such as increased fuel prices and wages, to mention just a couple,” ODMA stated.
It continued: “The quick nature of how this concession was able to be overturned and the little value placed on the volume capacity of the manufacturer making an application for a revocation is also of concern as ODMA appreciates businesses attempt to plan and budget ahead for the future.”
ODMA acknowledged the revocation of the eyewear tariff concession would have been a shock to many ODMA and industry members.
“This places further pressure on importers from areas such as Europe, where unlike China, there is currently no free trade agreement,” the association said.
ODMA said it had been working behind the scenes in private negotiations to attempt to resolve the situation and had hoped for a different outcome.
It is currently engaging with numerous industry members to gain feedback and is reviewing all immediate available alternative courses of action.