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Amazon shuts Australians out of its overseas sites

US giant cites tax change for move that has upset bargain hunters

Australian shoppers will lose access to the bigger and better-priced Amazon marketplaces abroad.   © Reuters

SYDNEY -- will stop online shoppers in Australia from making purchases on its overseas sites, a step seen as aimed at growing its nascent local business.

The U.S. company brought its online marketplace to Australia in December. But many consumers here shop on Amazon's U.S. and U.K. websites, which often carry broader selections of items at lower prices.

Starting July 1, shoppers in Australia who try to visit overseas Amazon sites will be redirected to the Australian website. Users who manage to order from the American site, for example, will have to supply U.S. delivery addresses or have their packages forwarded.

Amazon has cited next month's extension of the goods and services tax to low-value imports of 1,000 Australian dollars ($760) or less by consumers as justification for the move, which has nevertheless caused frustration.

Amazon Australia offers around 60 million products, far less than the American site's selection of about 480 million, local media report. Given Australia's steady consumer price inflation, shoppers here often find better deals on overseas Amazon sites even after paying for shipping, an office worker says.

Purchases from foreign e-commerce sites account for about A$6 billion of Australians' online purchases of roughly A$25 billion a year, according to The Australian Financial Review.

Threatened by overseas competition, local retailers like furniture and appliance seller Harvey Norman pushed for years to extend the GST. Amazon had opposed the levy when the decision was made in 2017.

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