In this new stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, in which vaccines are ready for distribution, the WCO Council has tasked the Secretariat to work with relevant international organizations to develop guidance materials to facilitate the cross-border movement of situationally critical medicines and vaccines, including highlighting existing HS classification for critical medicines, vaccines and associated medical supplies necessary for their manufacture, distribution and use.
The WCO’s Tariff and Trade Affairs Directorate, in close cooperation with the World Health Organization, has prepared a new HS classification reference for vaccines and the medical consumables normally used during the vaccination process, including the equipment used for their storage and transportation.
The WCO participated in the virtual side event, organized by UNEP OzonAction, at the 32nd Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The event aimed to inform participants about how the WCO Recommendation can help implement national measures to identify hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) before the new international Harmonized System codes come into force.
The event, held 24 November 2020 and attended by 78 participants, addressed a major issue for countries. One of the important requirements of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol is that an import and export licencing system for hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) needs to be in place by 1/1/2021 at the latest, in each country that is Party to the Amendment.
To enable a licencing system to function effectively, governments need to be able to monitor and record imports and exports of each specific HFC. Import and export statistics are normally collected by customs officers using the Harmonized System.
The HS will be amended in 2022 to incorporate specific subheadings for the most commonly traded HFCs and their mixtures. However, until the HS is amended in 2022, all HFCs are contained in a single HS code which does not allow differentiation of individual chemicals or mixtures.
This side event provided an overview of the issue and explained a proactive interim approach, recommended by the WCO, to open national subheadings under the existing international HS codes to identify specific HFCs until 2022.
A technical officer from Tariff and Trade Affairs (Nomenclature) explained the classification of HFCs in the current HS 2017 and the changes to be implemented in 2022. He also explained how the “WCO Recommendation on the insertion in national statistical nomenclatures of subheadings to facilitate the collection and comparison of data on the international movement of substances controlled by virtue of the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer” could be implemented by Regions or individual countries.
Practical examples of the implementations of the WCO Recommendation at regional and national levels were given by representatives of the European Commission and the Oceania Customs Organization.
Countries were encouraged to expeditiously insert additional national subheadings for HFCs and HFC-containing mixtures, as guided by the WCO Recommendation, to ensure a proper implementation of the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol.