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WCO Conference on the future direction of the Harmonized System

Revitalizing the Harmonized System

What is needed for a 21st century Harmonized System?

START DATE 02 mayo 2019
END DATE 03 mayo 2019
LOCATION WCO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium


2018 marked the 30th anniversary of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, the Harmonized System, or ‘HS’. While the HS is one the WCO’s most successful and unifying instruments and a major factor in global trade, it is high time to reflect on the challenges ahead and explore the idea of a strategic review of the HS to ensure that it remains relevant and responds to concerns of stakeholders. So we are providing a chance to have a real impact on how the HS evolves and changes to match your needs – whether you are Customs officers, traders, statisticians, academics or policy makers.

The two day program will offer an open and wide ranging exploration of the HS and how its future should look. Taking in the needs of all sectors, this conference will generate recommendations to the WCO Policy Commission.

Under the direction of the WCO Policy Commission, the Secretariat has prepared a background guidance paper, giving greater detail on what is expected from the Conference and why this Conference came about.

 -   Conference Guidance Paper (background, scope of conference and issues)



The program offers potential speakers and participants an opportunity to see the intended topics and flow of the conference. While the outline of the individual speaker’s topics may be adapted, the overall structure of the program is set.

If you have an interest in speaking, or in providing written articles for the Conference Papers, please contact the HS Review team ( Speakers are already being accepted from major international intergovernmental organisations, academics, international business, trade organisations and others, so please check and we can give you the latest update on whether a speaking space you are interested in is available.

Photos of the Conference can be downloaded here - © World Customs Organization / Organisation mondiale des douanes

Speaker’s Papers and side papers

Speaker Biographies

Conference Paper Guidelines

Author Title Languages available
3CE Addressing Structural and Semantic Impediments to Easy, Accurate HS Classification [en]
CompTIA What is needed for a 21st century Harmonized System? [en]
ESIA What is needed for a 21st century HS? [en]
ICC What is needed for a 21st century Harmonized System? [en]
Jan Willem Reintjes Development of the HS [en]
Japan Customs Strategic Review of the Harmonized System [en] [fr]
Serbia, Ministry of Finance HS as a language of mutual understanding for implementing free trade in Serbia [en]
SIA Semiconductors and the Future of the Harmonized System [en]
UNSD Initial Reflections for a HS Strategic Review in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development [en]
USCIB HS Reform Principles-view from USCIB [en]



Auteur Titre Langues disponibles
3CE Toward an Intuitive HS: Structural and Semantic Impediments to Easy, Accurate HS Classification [en]
Carlos Halasz The Role of the HS in Trade Agreements [en]
China Customs GS1 vs HS, What would happen next [en] [fr]
European Commission Classification of equipment with different functions and sets for retail sale using GIR 3 [en] [fr]
EY EY Americas Global Trade Leader [en]
Fickle Formulas Globalization and the growing defects of international economic statistics [en]
GS1 Potential use in cross border trade [en]
ICC The Changing Face of Trade and the HS [en]
IFCBA Revitalizing the Harmonized System (Carol West) [en]
IFCBA Revitalizing the Harmonized System (Francisco Jaime King Cancino) [en]
IFCBA What Should Happen? Some Thoughts from the Private Sector [en]
Japan Customs Japan Customs’ views on the Strategic Review of the HS [en] [fr]
ODASCE Presentation [fr]
Ronald P. Steenblik Using the HS in trade negotiatons - lessons from attempts to liberalize environmental goods [en]
UNSD Initial Reflections for a HS Strategic Review in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development [en]
WTO The HS and Negotiations at the WTO [en]
WTO The Harmonized System and the work of the World Trade Organization - Executive Summary [en]


Registration (CLOSED)

Please note that the places are limited, thus we would encourage all interested parties to register as soon as possible. In the event the conference is filled before you register, you are invited to email the HS Review team at the below address of your interest. It may be possible for additional seats to be provided.

For any withdrawal or change of registration, the Participant should notify in writing (e-mail) to the attention of the designated contact person ( at the WCO at least one week before the start of the conference.

Please note that while the Conference is being provided free of charge to assist smaller organisations to participate, all other costs of attending are borne by the participants. Transport costs, hotel costs or other daily expenses are not covered.



World Customs Organization
30 rue du Marché
1210 Brussels, Belgium