Launch of Exploratory Study Project on Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS)

07 October 2022

The World Customs Organization (WCO) Secretariat has formally commenced a small project team for a two-year period to conduct an exploratory study on a possible strategic review of the HS starting from 5th September 2022.

The objective of the study project is to assess the usability, sufficiency and health of the current HS system and conduct preliminary feasibility of any arising options and strategies that could be pursued to ensure its long-term viability. The outcome of the study is expected to allow Members to make an informed decision on whether they wish to undertake a strategic review.

HS, as a living document, has undergone various amendments in the past to help keep it abreast of current needs and to address the constant evolution of international trade. The latest HS revision came into effect on 1 January 2022. However, these changes have primarily focused on updating individual provisions. With the workload generated by the changing needs of governments and trade in relation to which traded goods require greater specification in the HS, there has been little opportunity to focus on a more holistic consideration of the HS system (including the HS tools) itself.

The study is an opportunity to look at the HS as an overall trade tool, including looking at: the complexities of classification; the current system of supporting tools (Explanatory Notes, Classification Opinions, Alphabetical Index); the maintenance of the relevancy of the HS to current trade developments and the HS’s ability to keep pace with the changing policy and trade needs. With the changing face of trade in a time of rapid change, it is very timely that we continue to nurture the HS and look toward potential future developments within the HS system.

Everyone is invited to participate and contribute to the study project. The link to the online survey will be made available shortly on the WCO website and through the social media channels.

If you have any queries, please contact at project.HSStudy@wcoomd.org.