Building of World Customs Organisation in Bŕussels. (Photo Sugogo/Wikipedia)
The new version of the Harmonized System (HS) Nomenclature entered into force on 1 January 2017. Developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and adopted in 1983, this is the Sixth Edition of this global standard, used by over 200 countries and Economic or Customs Unions (including the 154 Contracting Parties to the HS Convention) for classifying goods in international trade.
“Given the vital role this instrument plays in facilitating trade and in ensuring connectivity between trade actors, I would urge its speedy implementation by Customs and by the public and private sectors worldwide,” said WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya.
The 2017 edition of the HS Nomenclature includes 5,386 six-digit subheadings (compared to 5,205 in the 2012 edition). The HS is used by countries as a basis for their national Customs tariffs and for the collection of international trade statistics. The World Trade Organization and individual countries use the HS as the common language of trade for the purposes of trade negotiations, and as a basis for determination of the origin of goods. However, amendments made to the HS reflect more than just a need for statistical data or the setting of tariff rates; they allow the trade in goods, especially those having a social and environmental impact, to be monitored and controlled. The amendments made to the HS over the past decades reflect this concern, with environmental and social issues of global interest being major features of the HS 2017 amendments, as was already the case in the preceding, 2012 edition.
The majority of the changes in this latest edition of the HS were prompted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). These include amendments for fish and fishery products, the objective being to further enhance the coverage of species and product forms which need to be monitored for food security purposes and for better management of resources.
HS 2017 also features certain classification provisions introduced in order to monitor trade in products such as substances controlled under the Chemical Weapons Convention, hazardous chemicals controlled under the Rotterdam Convention, and persistent organic pollutants controlled under the Stockholm Convention.
It also focuses on forestry products, the aim being to enhance the coverage of wood species in order to obtain a better picture of trade patterns, including trade in endangered species. Other amendments resulted from changes in international trade patterns, manufacturing processes and technological progress, as well as efforts to simplify the HS.
In total, the 2017 edition is comprised of 233 sets of amendments: 85 relating to the agricultural sector; 45 to the chemical sector; 13 to the wood sector; 15 to the textile sector; 25 to the machinery sector; 18 to the transport sector; and an additional 32 that apply to a variety of other sectors.
Nine sets of complementary amendments in respect of heading 44.01 and certain subheadings of Chapter 44 (Wood and articles of wood; wood charcoal) were accepted at a later stage.
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