The WCO Secretariat has set up a team to study the possibilities for potential improvements to the HS and its tools. The team will collect views and suggestions from stakeholders. Details of how you can get involved in the HS Study can be found at the end of this article.
The Harmonized System Convention, and the Harmonized System it governs, came into force in 1988 with the intent to provide greater uniformity for the classification of globally traded commodity groups. Since the introduction of the HS, its use has spread globally. As of 1 October 2022 the Convention has 160 Contracting Parties, and the HS is currently incorporated in the tariff classification schedules of 212 economies (countries, territories, or Customs or economic unions). It not only determines the classification of goods and applicable Customs duties, but is also used to identify goods for a variety of trade facilitation measures, statistical information, Customs controls and other trade-related purposes.
Since its inception, the HS has been amended to produce seven new editions to reflect changes in technology and the patterns of international trade. However, these amendments have generally involved changing various provisions for specific types of goods. This periodic review is in itself a very time and resource intensive process, and provides only a limited opportunity to look more holistically at the HS, its tool set (Explanatory Notes, Compendium of Classification Opinions and Alphabetical Index) and the processes and procedures around its international management in order to assess the overall health of the system.
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