HS Reservation Process

Having regard to Articles 6, 7 and 8 of the Harmonized System Convention, the matters for which no requests has been made under paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 8 of the Harmonized System Convention, shall be deemed to be approved by the Council. If a Contracting Party to the Harmonized System Convention has notified the Secretary General that it requests that a certain matter be referred to the Council, a so called “reservation” is entered by a Contracting Party to the Harmonized System Convention. In such instance, the matter of concern to the Contracting Party shall be re-examined by the Harmonized System Committee. 

Based on the current provisions, two possible reservation procedures can be applied. The Contracting Party entering the reservation may request in writing to the Secretary General that the matter of its concern be referred either to the Council (the reservation procedure based on Article 8 of the Convention) or directly back to the Harmonized System Committee for re-examination at its next session (so called “fast-track” reservation procedure, provided for by Decision of the Council No. 298 – see below).  

This overview provides a legal framework of the actual reservation process including the relevant parts of the Harmonized System Convention (Article 8), the Rules of Procedures of the Harmonized System Committee (Article 20) and Decision of the Council No. 298.

Article 8 of the Harmonized System Convention

“Role of the Council

1. The Council shall examine proposals for amendment of this Convention, prepared by the Harmonized System Committee, and recommend them to the Contracting Parties under the procedure of Article 16 unless any Council Member which is a Contracting Party to this Convention requests that the proposals or any part thereof be referred to the Committee for re-examination.

2. The Explanatory Notes, Classification Opinions, other advice on the interpretation of the Harmonized System and recommendations to secure uniformity in the interpretation and application of the Harmonized System, prepared during a session of the Harmonized System Committee under the provisions of paragraph l of Article 7, shall be deemed to be approved by the Council if, not later than the end of the second month following the month during which that session was closed, no Contracting Party to this Convention has notified the Secretary General that it requests that such matter be referred to the Council.

3. Where a matter is referred to the Council under the provisions of paragraph 2 of this Article, the Council shall approve such Explanatory Notes, Classification Opinions, other advice or recommendations, unless any Council Member which is a Contracting Party to this Convention requests that they be referred in whole or part to the Committee for reexamination.”

Rule 20 of the Rules of Procedure of the Harmonized System Committee

“Pursuant to Council Decision No. 298, the Secretary General may refer matters arising under paragraph 2 of Article 8 of the Convention directly back to the Committee upon the request of a Contracting Party, provided that the request is made in writing not later than the end of the second month following the month during which a session of the Committee was closed. The Secretary General shall then place the matter on the Agenda of the following session of the Committee for re-examination.  

If requests relating to the same matter are received from different Contracting Parties for referral both to the Council and to the Committee, or if a Contracting Party does not specify whether the matter should be referred to the Council or directly to the Committee, the matter shall be referred to the Council. The Secretary General shall inform all Contracting Parties of the receipt of a request for referral of a matter to the Council or to the Committee.

A Contracting Party making a request for referral of a matter to the Council or to the Committee may withdraw its request at any time before the matter is examined by the Council or re-examined by the Committee. However, the Committee will examine a matter if it has been referred by the Council. In the event that a Contracting Party withdraws a request, the original decision of the Committee shall be deemed to be approved, unless a request from another Contracting Party dealing with the same matter is pending. The Secretary General shall notify Contracting Parties of any withdrawal.

Notifications to the Secretary General to refer any matter to the Council or Committee for re-examination pursuant to Article 8.2 of the Convention and Council Decision No. 298 may not be submitted before the day following the close of the Committee's session, but must be submitted by the end of the second month following the month during which that session was closed.

When, pursuant to the provisions of paragraph 3 of Article 8 of the Convention and Council Decision No. 298, any matter is referred in whole or in part to the Committee for reexamination, the Contracting Party which has requested that the matter be re-examined shall submit to the Secretary General, not less than 60 days before the opening date of the next session of the Committee, a note setting out its reasons for requesting the re-examination, together with its proposals for resolving the matter. The Secretary General shall circulate this note to the other Contracting Parties.”

Decision of the Council No. 298 (93rd/94th Sessions – June 1999) Procedure for re-examiniation of certain Matters by the Harmonized System Committee

THE COUNCIL,

HAVING REGARD to Article III of the Convention establishing a Customs Co-operation Council,

HAVING REGARD to Articles 6, 7 and 8 of the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (hereinafter referred to as the Harmonized System Convention),

HAVING REGARD to Rule 20 of the Rules of Procedure of the Harmonized System Committee,

CONSIDERING that it is desirable to introduce an expeditious procedure which would enable timely re-examination of a matter for which a request has been made under paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 8 of the Harmonized System Convention,

DECIDES as follows:

1. The Council authorizes the Secretary General, at the request of a Contracting Party, to refer directly back to the Harmonized System Committee matters arising under paragraph 2 of Article 8 of the Harmonized System Convention.

2. The following procedure shall apply whenever a Contracting Party to the Harmonized System Convention requests under paragraph 2 of Article 8 of the said Convention, that the Explanatory Notes, Classification Opinions, other advice on the interpretation of the Harmonized System or recommendations to secure uniformity in the interpretation and application of the Harmonized System prepared during a session of the Harmonized System Committee under the provisions of paragraph 1 of Article 7 be referred to the Council :

(a) not later than the end of the second month following the month during which the session of the Harmonized System Committee was closed, a Contracting Party may request in writing to the Secretary General that such matter be referred :

(i) to the Council, or

(ii) directly back to the Harmonized System Committee for reexamination at its next session;

(b) if a request is received in accordance with paragraph 2 (a) (ii), the Secretary General shall place the matter on the Agenda of the following session of the Harmonized System Committee for reexamination;

(c) if requests relating to the same matter are received from different Contracting Parties for referral under both 2 (a)(i) and 2 (a)(ii), or if a Contracting Party does not specify whether the matter should be referred to the Council or directly to the Committee, the matter shall be referred to the Council;

(d) The Secretary General shall inform all Contracting Parties of the receipt of a request pursuant to paragraph 2 (a).

3. A Contracting Party to the Harmonized System Convention making a request under paragraph 2 (a) may withdraw its request at any time before the matter is examined by the Council or re-examined by the Harmonized System Committee, as the case may be. However, the Committee will examine the matter if it has received a referral from the Council.

4. In the event that a Contracting Party withdraws a request pursuant to paragraph 3, the decision by the Harmonized System Committee shall be deemed approved, unless a similar request from another Contracting Party is pending.

5. The Secretary General shall notify the Contracting Parties of a withdrawal pursuant to paragraph 3.