WCO Exploratory Study Project on a Possible Review of the Harmonized System (HS)

In late 2022, the World Customs Organization (WCO) officially launched a two year project on the “Exploratory Study Project on a Possible Review of the Harmonized System (HS)”.

The study project is an opportunity to look at the overall health of the HS and its tools (the Explanatory Notes, Classification Opinions and Alphabetical Index), as well as the processes around its update and management.  Given it is 34 years old and the trade environment has altered considerably since the HS came into force, it is timely to look at if there is any need to enhance or optimise the HS to enable it to continue to meet the needs of governments and trade into the future. The outcome of the study will be a report to the Contracting Parties, presenting an analysis of the input received and the study of the HS, along with an initial assessment of the feasibility of any potential change strategies arising from the study. Based on this, the WCO Council can consider which, if any, of the potential strategies for the future development or enhancement of the HS system could be taken further.

The project initially focuses on stakeholder engagement and consultation phase, which goes until the end of February 2023, and the WCO is particularly interested in views of the INCU and its members. The combination of insights into the HS from both academic and research perspectives places customs-focused universities and institutions in a unique position to provide not only a fresh perspective on the HS as it is, but also on what it could be. Accordingly, there are opportunities for the INCU and its members to make significant contributions towards improving functioning, usability and sustainability of the HS.

The WCO would welcome any input from INCU members on any areas, including but not limited to the structure, clarity and usability of the HS system; availability and usefulness of the additional information provided (Explanatory Notes, Classification Opinions, Alphabetical Index, and WCO Trade Tools); and the implementation process. Please feel free to send your comments, proposals and submissions to the INCU Secretariat at info@incu.org by 1 March 2023, which will be consolidated and forwarded to the WCO project team.

In addition, the WCO has set up a dedicated online discussion forum for non-government stakeholders including private sector and academia to exchange views and ideas on the HS. The INCU members are invited to register and join this discussion forum. The instructions on how to register and access the forum can be found on the project’s dedicated webpage:  www.wcoomd.org/en/topics/nomenclature/activities-and-programmes/exploratory-study-on-a-possible-strategic-review-of-the-hs.aspx. The WCO is looking forward to participation of INCU members in this discussion forum.