The Interim Report of the WCO Exploratory Study on a possible strategic review of the Harmonized System

18 January 2024

The WCO is pleased to announce the publication of the Interim Report of the Exploratory Study on a possible strategic review of the Harmonized System (HS).

The interim report provides information on the state of consideration to date, outlining the preliminary analysis of the inputs collected.  The report strongly affirms the HS as a crucial trade classification system with no identified superior alternative. It also recognises that there are areas where improvements to the HS could be made to improve usability or extend its capabilities.

The analysis consists of two sections.

The first section deals with potential improvements to specific areas/aspects of the HS, its tools, and procedural matters to strengthen the usability and predictability of the HS.  

The second section explores potential strategies to respond to changing needs, noting that some of new expectations on the HS can be challenging or infeasible as the HS is currently structured.

All Inputs were collected through discussion, online surveys, symposia, and direct submissions from the WCO Members and other stakeholders, including representatives of Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs), Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), International Industry Associations, National Government Agencies, the private sector and academia.

While the final analysis stage ifs already underway, the project remains open to further proposals or comments. Any emailed written inputs can still be provided, however, as drafting of the final report is ongoing, any received may or may not be included in the analysis dependent upon the time available and required for the inputs.   Where there is insufficient time for the analysis of new inputs provided, these will become part of the handover at the end of the Study (4 September 2024) for future consideration by the HSC or any potential follow-on project.

The future of the HS is assured, but, with the inputs of users, we can look at making it even stronger.

The interim report is available here.