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Australia scraps 'nuisance' tariffs to remove red tape, lower living costs

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia said on Monday it would remove import tariffs on a wide range of goods including toothbrushes, toasters, hand tools and clothing in a bid to eliminate red tape for businesses and bring relief to families battling higher living costs.

Removing the tariffs will streamline about A$8.5 billion ($5.62 billion) worth of annual trade and save businesses over A$30 million in compliance costs each year, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said in a statement.

"(The government) will abolish almost 500 nuisance tariffs from 1 July this year ... these reforms are an important step towards simplifying Australia's trading system," Chalmers said.

Most goods are now imported duty-free after successive trade agreements but businesses spend time and money proving their imports are eligible for tariff concessions, a compliance cost they often pass on to consumers.

The move, which Chalmers said was the biggest unilateral tariff reform in two decades, will abolish 14% of Australia's total tariffs. The full list of tariffs to be axed will be finalised in the May federal budget, he said.

($1 = 1.5113 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Renju Jose in Sydney; Editing by Sandra Maler)