Washington, DC – International customs officials at the World Customs Organization (WCO) have agreed on 234 changes to the global system that categorizes products that are imported and exported around the world.
In the US, those mandated changes will be implemented by the International Trade Commission – the federal government agency responsible for maintaining and updating the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) product category system utilized by US-based companies involved in global trade.
As a result of the move by the WCO, the agency has said it will make the appropriate recommendations to the White House on the necessary modifications to the HTS.
The US and other countries have until January 1, 2017, to incorporate the changes, “but much work lies ahead,” according to Jim Holbein, director of the ITC office that maintains the HTS.
“The first step for importers and exporters is to become aware of the changes being made at the international level,” he said. “If they believe they will be affected, they will want to stay on top of the process as it moves forward.”
‘Nomenclature analysts’ at the ITC “are analyzing the WCO document” with the ITC expecting to issue proposed recommendations on changes to the HTS by the end of this year, he added.
“At that time, the USITC will seek public comments on the proposed recommendations,” he said. “Detailed information on how to submit comments and related deadlines will be provided at that time.”
The USITC, said Holbein, will consider all public comments, as well as comments from other US government agencies in making its recommendations, which will be submitted to the White House via the Office of the US Trade Representative by July 2015.
Following expiration of a 60-day layover period before Congress, the president has the authority to forward the modifications to the HTS for action. .
The Brussels, Belgium-headquartered World Customs Organization (WCO) was established in 1952 as the Customs Co-operation Council (CCC).
An independent inter-governmental body, it represents 179 Customs administrations across the globe that collectively process approximately 98 percent of world trade.