The clinical characteristics of the COVID-19 and its evolution makes it challenging for the health system of many countries and shortage of medicines can worsen the situation. Potential supply chain disruptions may jeopardize the timely supply of all essential medicines, including those not directly related to COVID-19.
The List of WHO/WCO Priority Medicines for Customs Used during COVID-19 aims at assisting Customs and economic operators in classifying these medicines. The list contains the suggested HS codes for medicines used in the general medical care administered to hospitalized patients; as part of the direct treatment of the COVID-19 disease; and for which interrupted supply could result in serious health consequences.
The new list, which will now be continuously updated, is the result of an efficient collaboration between the WHO and the WCO. The medicines and active substances were compiled by the WHO taking into account various information published by National Health Authorities, scientific societies or pharmacology experts, and with suggested HS codes provided by the WCO Secretariat.
Taking into consideration the suggestions received from Members and other stakeholders, the WCO/WHO HS Classification Reference for Covid-19 Medical Supplies was once more updated with additional items that could be used during this pandemic situation. COVID-19 medical supplies list update:
Future initiative foreseen by the WCO for COVID-19 medical supplies list
The WCO is aware that some countries have used the WCO list as a reference when making their own national lists of medical supplies. In order to further facilitate trade in medical supplies and present information in a coordinated manner, the WCO is considering, for the next edition of the medical supplies list, to include links to specific national classification lists of medical supplies. Members wishing to include information on their national classification lists of medical supplies can send their links to: email@example.com.
Further assistance in identifying essential items can be found on the website of WHO. The COVID-19 Critical Items List from the WHO can be found at:
To respond to the unprecedented demand in medical supplies amid the current global COVID-19 pandemic around the world, and in order to help countries speed up the cross-border movement of these critical products, the WCO and the World Health Organization (WHO) joined hands to strengthen their cooperation by establishing a coordinated approach in their response to the pandemic.
As a result of this joint effort of the two organizations, the HS Classification Reference for COVID-19 Medical Supplieswas updated, in a more structured and user-friendly format, to reflect more of the products that would be required in the professional opinion and experience of the WHO in public health. The first HS classification reference for COVID-19 medical supplies, published by the WCO at the dedicated section of its website two weeks ago, was an initial response of the Secretariat to help countries in their fight against the spread of COVID-19. The initial list contained the classification of essential products needed such as COVID-19 diagnostic test kits and masks, certain protective personal equipment and medical devices such as ventilators and ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), consumables and disinfectant products that may be used for the prevention and treatment of the disease. The latest edition expands this list to cover a greater range of medical equipment and supplies that are required as critical itemsby the WHO, such as oxygen concentrators and sample collection sets.
The list of HS-coded medical supplies was widely appreciated by stakeholders and taken into consideration by governments when preparing their responses to secure and facilitate trade in these supplies. It serves as the basis for identifying the cross-border movement of the products needed during the pandemic, applying contingent tariff and non-tariff relief policies, monitoring and combating falsified supplies, and even for taking responsive actions to address shortages.
The updated list is provided as an indicative list with a view to facilitating the classification of COVID-19 medical supplies at the international level (6 digit of the HS). Economic operators are kindly advised to consult with the relevant Customs administrations in relation to classification at domestic levels (7 or more digits) or in the event of any discrepancy between their practices and this list.
This edition’s “Dossier” focuses on how Customs can foster sustainability for people, prosperity and the planet, the WCO’s theme for 2020, and includes a selection of articles on the implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements, the role of the Harmonized System, the trade in illegal timber, and tools for logistics planning and supply chain optimization.
The “Panorama” section covers various topics such as internal communication, cultural goods, partnership with express couriers to fight illicit trade, management of e-commerce transactions via blockchains, and measurement of the time required to process imports in order to boost logistic service providers’ efficiency.
You can also read an insightful “Point of View” article on how machine learning can automate the determination of the valuation of goods, as well as an “Events” article containing highlights from the WCO Communication Strategies Conference held in October 2019.
HS 2022, which is the seventh edition of the Harmonized System (HS) nomenclature used for the uniform classification of goods traded internationally all over the world, has been accepted by the all Contracting Parties to the Harmonized System Convention. It shall come into force on 1 January 2022.
The HS serves as the basis for Customs tariffs and for the compilation of international trade statistics in 211 economies (of which 158 are Contracting Parties to the HS Convention). The new HS2022 edition makes some major changes to the Harmonized System with a total of 351 sets of amendments covering a wide range of goods moving across borders. Here are some of the highlights:
Adaption to current trade through the recognition of new product streams and addressing environmental and social issues of global concern are the major features of the HS 2022 amendments.
Visibility will be introduced to a number of high profile product streams in the 2022 Edition to recognise the changing trade patterns. Electrical and electronic waste, commonly referred to as e-waste, is one example of a product class which presents significant policy concerns as well as a high value of trade, hence HS 2022 includes specific provisions for its classification to assist countries in their work under the Basel Convention. New provisions for novel tobacco and nicotine based products resulted from the difficulties of the classification of these products, lack of visibility in trade statistics and the very high monetary value of this trade. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly referred to as drones, also gain their own specific provisions to simplify the classification of these aircraft. Smartphones will gain their own subheading and Note, which will also clarify and confirm the current heading classification of these multifunctional devices.
Major reconfigurations have been undertaken for the subheadings of heading 70.19 for glass fibres and articles thereof and for heading 84.62 for metal forming machinery. These changes recognize that the current subheadings do not adequately represent the technological advances in these sectors, leaving a lack of trade statistics important to the industries and potential classification difficulties.
One area which is a focus for the future is the classification of multi-purpose intermediate assemblies. However, one very important example of such a product has already been addressed in HS 2022. Flat panel display modules will be classified as a product in their own right which will simplify classification of these modules by removing the need to identify final use. Health and safety has also featured in the changes. The recognition of the dangers of delays in the deployment of tools for the rapid diagnosis of infectious diseases in outbreaks has led to changes to the provisions for such diagnostic kits to simplify classification. New provisions for placebos and clinical trial kits for medical research to enable classification without information on the ingredients in a placebos will assist in facilitating cross-border medical research. Cell cultures and cell therapy are among the product classes that have gained new and specific provisions. On a human security level, a number of new provisions specifically provide for various dual use items. These range from toxins to laboratory equipment.
Protection of society and the fight against terrorism are increasingly important roles for Customs. Many new subheadings have been created for dual use goods that could be diverted for unauthorized use, such as radioactive materials and biological safety cabinets, as well as for items required for the construction of improvised explosive devices, such as detonators.
Goods specifically controlled under various Conventions have also been updated. The HS 2022 Edition introduces new subheadings for specific chemicals controlled under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), for certain hazardous chemicals controlled under the Rotterdam Convention and for certain persistent organic pollutants (POPs) controlled under the Stockholm Convention. Furthermore, at the request of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), new subheadings have been introduced for the monitoring and control of fentanyls and their derivatives as well as two fentanyl precursors. Major changes, including new heading Note 4 to Section VI and new heading 38.27, have been introduced for gases controlled under the Kigali Amendment of the Montreal Protocol.
The changes are not confined to creating new specific provisions for various goods. The amendments also include clarification of texts to ensure uniform application of the nomenclature. For example, there are changes for the clarification and alignment between French and English of the appropriate way to measure wood in the rough for the purposes of subheadings under heading 44.03.
Given the wide scope of the changes, there are many important changes not mentioned in this short introduction. All interested parties are encourage to read the Recommendation carefully (to be published soon).
While January 2022 may seem far off, a lot of work needs to be done at WCO, national and regional levels for the timely implementation of the new HS edition. The WCO is currently working on the development of requisite correlation tables between the current 2017 and the new edition of the HS, and on updating the HS publications, such as the Explanatory Notes, the Classification Opinions, the Alphabetical Index and the HS online database.
Customs administrations and regional economic communities have a huge task to ensure timely implementation of the 2022 HS Edition, as required by the HS Convention. They are therefore encouraged to begin the process of preparing for the implementation of HS 2022 in their national Customs tariff or statistical nomenclatures. The WCO will step up its capacity building efforts to assist Members with their implementation.
A new online course on the 2017 Edition of the Harmonized System (HS) has just been released by the WCO.
Through educational videos and a knowledge test, this course allows you to learn about the major changes in the 2017 version of the HS.
This course is available on CLiKC!, the WCO online learning platform, but is also the first WCO e-learning course which is built using mobile learning technologies. By downloading the app, available on the App Store and on Google Play, users will benefit from more features such as a search engine which indicates if a specific HS code has been amended in the 2017 version.
The app is available for free to anybody who wishes to learn about HS2017. The added feature for our Member administrations’ Customs officers, who have an account on this website, is that it will be synchronized with CLiKC!
The Harmonized System (HS) allows a world of many languages to speak with one. A multipurpose nomenclature for trade, the HS is one of the most successful instruments developed by the World Customs Organization. Its Convention has 156 Contracting Parties and the HS is used by more than 200 countries, territories and Customs or Economic Unions. It forms the basis for Customs tariffs and statistical nomenclatures around the world, and is used for around 98% of world trade. The year 2018 marks the 30thAnniversary of the HS which came into effect on 1stJanuary, 1988.
As an international standard with global application, the HS plays a key role in facilitating world trade. The HS is used as the basis for:
Trade policies and quota controls;
Collection of international trade statistics and data exchange;
Rules of origin;
Trade negotiations such as the WTO Information Technology Agreement and Free Trade Agreements;
Monitoring of controlled goods, for example, chemical weapons precursors, hazardous wastes and persistent organic pollutants, ozone depleting substances and endangered species;
Many Customs controls and procedures, including risk assessments and profiling, electronic data input and matching and compliance activities; and Economic research and analysis..
The HS is crucial to the development of global trade. It is also fundamental to achieving fair, efficient, and effective revenue collection, a primary Strategic Goal of the WCO. In addition, as it provides an essential tool for the simplification and harmonization of customs procedures and provides the basis of knowing what trade goods are crossing borders, it contributes to other major strategic goals of Customs administrations and of the WCO.
The HS is a living language. The HS is now in it’s 6th edition and in the process of preparing for the Seventh Edition of the HS (HS 2022). During the life of the HS, there have been 60 meetings of the Harmonized System Committee (HSC) where 4,144 agenda items were discussed, 10 Recommendations were produced concerning the application of the HS Convention, 2280 classification decisions made and 871 Classification Opinions adopted to ensure the harmonization of classification. On 1st of January 2018, Members can be congratulated on having worked through the 60 HSC meetings, 53 meetings of the Review Sub-Committee (RSC) and 32 meetings of the Scientific Sub-Committee (SSC) to maintain and update the HS to keep it responsive and relevant to current needs.
On the occasion of this anniversary, the WCO calls for the international Customs community, in partnership with the international trade community, to continue to be proactive and pursue its efforts to develop and maintain the HS, especially in terms of the application and uniform interpretation of the HS, so as to safeguard and further grow the benefits of this success. Source: WCO, 3 January 2018.
The introduction in the coming months of a new customs tariff in Angola is feeding expectations among economic agents that replacing the current regime will be a stimulus to the country’s growth.
A new customs tariff system, submitted to the Council of Ministers and expected to be implemented this year, proposes cuts on import duties on foodstuffs such as fruit and vegetables, cooking oils and grains (including wheat flour), as well as raw materials such as iron, steel and aluminium products as well as second-hand cars, the Angolan press reported.
The aim is to replace the existing customs tariff system – introduced in 2014 before the start of the economic and financial crisis now facing the country – which is generally regarded as protectionist of local farmers and manufacturers, seeking to make imports more expensive in order to encourage diversification of an economy that is highly dependent on oil.
The current tariff has been the subject of much criticism from local and international companies as well as from the World Trade Organization (WTO).
In its most recent report on Angola, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said replacing the current tariff would likely be a positive move, as it had the effect of increasing the cost of domestic production and reducing competition in the market.
Despite tariff protection, the EIU points out that operational challenges – such as a lack of electricity, poor supply chain management and lack of human resources – have kept the country dependent on imports.
In addition to this, the fall in the price of oil following the introduction of the 2014 tariff has limited access to foreign currency for Angolan companies, making payments to suppliers abroad difficult and, as the kwanza has weakened, imports have become significantly more expensive.
“If and when (the new tariff is) applied, the cost of imports should fall and this should help fight inflation. A less protectionist customs regime should also stimulate Angola’s trade with its neighbours and can help the country finally meet the long-standing promise of joining the Southern African Development Community’s free trade zone,” the EIU said.
“A review of Angola’s current punitive customs regime should give a positive boost to the national economy. However, it is still unclear when the new tariffs will be applied,” it said.
In 2016, Angola formalised its accession to the International Convention for the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures (Kyoto Convention) of the World Customs Organisation, which aims to facilitate international trade.
Each acceding country has a deadline of 36 months to apply the general rules of this agreement, which provides for the minimisation of customs controls between members, thus facilitating and simplifying international trade. Source: macauhub
The World Customs Organization (WCO) has just released the 2017 edition of the Harmonized System Nomenclature, the world’s global standard for classifying goods in international trade, which will enter into force on 1 January 2017.
Used by over 200 countries and economic or Customs unions as well as by international organizations such as the United Nations Statistical Division (UNSD) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Harmonized System (HS) Convention currently has 154 Contracting Parties, making it the WCO’s most successful instrument to date.
The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, also known as the Harmonized System (HS) of tariff nomenclature is an internationally standardized system of names and numbers to classify traded products. It came into effect in 1988 and has since been developed and maintained by the World Customs Organization (WCO) (formerly the Customs Co-operation Council), an independent intergovernmental organization based in Brussels, Belgium – Wikipedia
The 2017 Edition of the WCO’s HS Nomenclature includes 242 sets of amendments (including some complementary amendments): 85 relating to the agricultural sector; 45 to the chemical sector; 22 to the wood sector; 15 to the textile sector; 6 to the base metal sector; 25 to the machinery sector; 18 to the transport sector and an additional 26 that apply to a variety of other sectors.
The 2017 edition of the Harmonized System comprises a total of 5,387 separate groups of goods identified by a 6-digit code (compared to 5,205 in the 2012 edition).
The Council, at its 127/128 Sessions in July 2016, adopted two HS-related Recommendations amended consequential to the Council Recommendation of 27 June 2014 concerning the amendment of the HS Nomenclature. First is the revised Recommendation of 18 June 1996 on the insertion in national statistical nomenclatures of subheadings for substances controlled under the Chemical Weapons Convention. Second is the Recommendation on the use of standard units of quantity to facilitate the collection, comparison and analysis of international statistics based on the HS Nomenclature 2017 Edition. With the acceptance of the revised Recommendation, the version of 24 June 2011 has been revoked with effect from 1 January 2017.
Click here for the HS-related Council Recommendations.
Correlation Tables HS 2012 – 2017
Some corrections have been made in the tables correlating the 2012 and 2017 versions of the Harmonized System.
Click here for the Correlation Tables HS 2012 – 2017.
Following the accepted complementary amendments to the Harmonized System Nomenclature listed in the Council Recommendation of 11 June 2015, the Correlation Tables between the 2012 and 2017 versions of the HS have been revised. The revised Correlation Tables show the correlation resulting from both the amendments to the Nomenclature which have been accepted as a result of the Council Recommendation of 27 June 2014 and the complementary amendments to the Nomenclature which have been accepted as a result of the Council Recommendation of 11 June 2015.
The importance of tariff classification and its impact on statistical and economic data – German imports of hardwood plywood from China continue to be affected by a dispute between the German trade and customs officials. In the last three years, customs officials, particularly at the port of Bremerhaven, have been checking Chinese plywood to ensure that boards are cross-laminated rather than laid parallel to each other.
According to German customs, boards should be reclassified as Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) if not fully cross-laminated. This is frequently the case with lower-quality Chinese plywood manufactured using small veneer pieces for the cores. LVL incurs a higher rate of duty of 10% compared to 7% for plywood. Roughly 40% of Chinese hardwood plywood deliveries into Germany were reclassified in this way in 2012.
German import merchants and the timber trade federation GD Holz have held talks with German customs to try to more clearly define which products should be considered plywood and which LVL. According to GD Holz, these talks have been unproductive so far and customs continue to reclassify Chinese plywood. Several German importers have now filed lawsuits and results are still pending. At the same time, GD Holz report that since 2014, several importers have been reimbursed for some instances of excessive duty paid. However, customs has not revealed why reimbursements were offered in some cases but not in others.
The uncertainty created by the dispute in Germany may partly explain the recent rise in imports of Chinese hardwood plywood into ports in Belgium and Netherlands. German buyers may be avoiding excess duty by buying from stocks landed in these neighbouring European countries.
The reclassification process has led to inconsistencies in the statistical data on German hardwood plywood imports. Data derived from Eurostat indicates that German imports fell by 18.3% to 34,700 cu.m in the first five months of 2015. This followed a decline of 5.5% to 103,000 cu.m for the whole year 2014.
However, the Eurostat data deviates from figures published by the German Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) which indicate a 62% increase in German hardwood plywood imports from China in the first quarter of 2015. On enquiry, Destatis note that they have adjusted their data downwards for 2014 to take account of plywood reclassified as LVL.
However Destatis have not yet made the same adjustment to the 2015 data. As a result, Destatis data on deliveries to Germany appear to surge this year. Overall, once all adjustments are made, Destatis reckon German imports of Chinese hardwood plywood in the first five months of 2015 were probably around the same as last year.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published a Federal Register Notice inviting U.S. exporters to request CBP’s assistance in resolving disputes with foreign customs agencies over the tariff classification or customs valuation of U.S. exports. CBP explains that it is willing to assist U.S. exporters with these disputes under the auspices of the World Customs Organization (WCO). CBP is very active at the WCO and regularly participates in meetings concerning the application of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS System) and the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Customs Valuation Agreement (CVA). According to CBP, this process was helpful in providing a successful outcome for clients who disputed a foreign customs agency’s classification of imported goods.
CBP represents the United States at meetings under the auspices of the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (“HS Convention”). The HS Convention is the international agreement that provides that WCO Members will implement the HS System and comply with decisions of the various committees organized under the convention. CBP attends semiannual meetings of the WCO’s Harmonized System Committee (HSC), where contracting parties to the HS Convention examine policy matters, make decisions on classification questions, settle disputes, and prepare amendments to the HS System and its Explanatory Notes.
Article 10 of the HS Convention governs disputes between contracting parties concerning the interpretation or application of the HS Convention. The article provides that parties with potential disputes should first try to settle the dispute through bilateral negotiations. If such negotiation cannot resolve the dispute, the parties may refer the dispute to the HSC for its consideration and recommendations. The HSC, in turn, refers irreconcilable disputes to the WCO Council for its recommendations.
CBP represents the United States at the WCO with respect to issues arising under the CVA. Pursuant to Annex II to the CVA, the WCO’s Technical Committee on Customs Valuation (TCCV) is authorized to examine specific problems arising from the customs valuation systems of WTO Members. The TCCV is responsible for examining the administration of the CVA, providing WTO Members with advisory opinions regarding particular customs valuation issues, and issuing commentaries or explanatory notes regarding the CVA. Like the HSC, the TCCV may get involved in disputes amongst foreign customs agencies. CBP stands willing to help U.S. exporters with these disputes. This process may provide U.S. exporters with a faster procedure to resolve disputes than a typical WTO dispute.
CBP’s Role at the WCO May Resolve Export Issues for U.S. Exporters
CBP states in the notice that its communication with other customs administrations through the meetings of the HSC and TCCV at the WCO can “often serve to eliminate or resolve export issues for U.S. traders.” As an example, in 2014, a U.S. exporter notified CBP of a foreign customs administration’s misclassification of its textile exports. The U.S. exporter requested that pursuant to Article 10 of the HS Convention, CBP (1) contact the foreign customs administration to resolve the tariff classification dispute; and (2) refer the matter to the HSC at the WCO, if it could not be resolved bilaterally. After confirming it agreed with the U.S. exporter’s position, CBP engaged the foreign customs administration directly. Within seven months of the exporter’s request, CBP secured a favorable decision by the foreign customs administration to classify the merchandise in a manner consistent with the U.S. position. Consequently, the U.S. exporter obtained correct tariff treatment of its imported merchandise in the foreign country as a result of CBP’s engagement.
The Correlation Tables between the 2012 version and the 2017 version of the Harmonized System (HS) are an essential device for preparation of new national Customs tariffs and a trade statistical classification based upon the HS Nomenclature 2017 Edition; modification of HS-based international Nomenclatures such as the Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) and the Central Product Classification (CPC); and preparations for possible WTO negotiations.
At its 55th Session in March 2015, the HS Committee examined and approved the Correlation Tables correlating the 2017 and 2012 versions of the HS.
Table І establishes the correlation between the 2017 version and the 2012 version of the HS. It contains remarks opposite certain correlations briefly specifying the nature of the goods transferred. In many cases, reference has also been made to the amended legal provisions.
Table ІІ establishes the correlation starting from the 2012 version to the 2017 version. It is simply a mechanical transposition of Table І and therefore includes no remarks. Source: WCO
Social media certainly provides a useful platform to share ones knowledge experience and creativity. I spotted this one on a LinkedIn group which should certainly be useful for US shippers and trade practitioners. The designer Jason Ge, Senior .NET Consultant at Mercer, has created a web-based tool for analyzing the origin status of bills of materials. It contains more than 6000 rules of origin of these US-based free trade agreements:
North American Free Trade Agreement
U.S. – Chile Free Trade Agreement
U.S. – Australia Free Trade Agreement
U.S. – Central America / Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement
U.S. – Colombia Free Trade Agreement
U.S. – Korea Free Trade Agreement
U.S. – Panama Free Trade Agreement
U.S. – Peru Free Trade Agreement
U.S. – Singapore Free Trade Agreement
If you want to quickly check your product’s origin status, this would be a good tool to use. Try it out for free at – https://www.originreview.com
The Classification handbook (2nd Edition) is intended to introduce the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, commonly referred to as the Harmonized System. It explains the origin of the Harmonized System, presents a detailed, precise arrangements for its management and describes additional publications attached to it. It also contains the text of the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, the Rules of Procedure of the Harmonized System Committee and Subcommittees and many other information. Visit the WCO Publication webpage to purchase on line.
National Customs building in Luanda. [Photo – Lino Guimarães.]
Angola’s new customs tariff, which came into effect on 1 March, is expected to increase tax revenues by around 23 billion kwanzas per year, according to Angolan news agency Angop.
Citing official figures, the agency said that the figure was a 10 percent increase on customs taxes provided by the previous tariff list, which came into effect in 2007.
The director of the Tariff and Trade department of the Angolan National Customs Service said recently that of a total of 6,651 products on the new tariff list, 2,942 are free from taxes and 1,150 products had their tariff reduced to 2 percent.
On the 2007 tariff list there were 2.576 tax-free products and 914 charged at a rate of 2 percent, of a total 6,011 products.
Amongst the items that can no longer enter the country, according to the new tariff list, are home-made medications, goods that breach copyright and industrial copyright and pornography.
The new customs tariff, which will be in place until 2017, is intended to improve circulation of Angolan goods and encourage exports. Source: macauhub