Amazon to block Australian shoppers from its U.S. website

Javier Stokes
May 31, 2018

This coincides with changes to the Online Goods Tax that require online retailers to apply the 10 per cent GST to all online purchases shipped to Australia from overseas.

After that date, Aussie customers who attempt to visit the United States version of Amazon or any of Amazon's overseas sites will find themselves redirected to Amazon's Australian site, which offers a much smaller selection of items.

"The government doesn't apologise for ensuring multinationals pay a fair amount of tax here in Australia", he said.

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.

Called the "Amazon tax", the new policy was introduced following concerns about the impact of Amazon and other large overseas e-commerce businesses on Australian retailers, who have to apply GST to all products they sell. It also said that in addition to the 60 million items available on the Australian site, "the global store will allow Australian customers to shop on amazon.com.au for over four million items that were previously only accessible from amazon.com".

Some 4.6 million Australians visited Amazon's USA site in November 2017, the month before its Australian website went live, according to consumer metrics company Nielsen.

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Amazon's primary site, Amazon.com, will be inaccessible in Australia, with buyers diverted to the local store, which has been heavily criticised for its higher prices and lesser variety.

The Australian version launched late previous year, with some 60 million products available.

Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison announced the change in April 2017, eight months before Amazon opened its Australian unit.

"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", said an Amazon spokesperson.

National Retail Association CEO Dominique Lamb said Amazon's move was a surprise.

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