At its 56th session, held Sept. 16-25 in Brussels, the World Customs Organization’s Harmonized System Committee took 27 classification decisions, adopted three sets of amendments to the Explanatory Notes and approved 26 new classification opinions. When deemed approved by the WCO Council at the end of November, these classification decisions (except those for which re-examination will be requested) and amendments to the Explanatory Notes and Compendium of Classification Opinions will be made available on the WCO website.

In addition, with respect to the 2017 edition of the HS nomenclature that will enter into force on Jan. 1, 2017, the HSC (1) approved a new draft WCO Council recommendation relating to the use of standard units of quantity to facilitate the collection, comparison and analysis of international statistics, (2) approved modifications to the WCO Council recommendation of 1996 on the insertion of subheadings for substances controlled under the convention on the prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and on their destruction, (3) adopted 11 sets of amendments to the Explanatory Notes consequential to the HS 2017 amendments, and (4) agreed to a modification to the correlation tables between the 2012 and 2017 editions of the HS for subheadings 1605.54 and 1605.59.

The HSC also held a half-day session to raise awareness of the importance of international trade statistics and find ways for customs administrations to support trade statistics and statisticians. The WCO notes that the HS is used by governments, international organizations and the private sector to communicate many types of information, including national excise duties and value-added tax, trade policies, the monitoring of controlled goods, transport statistics, the compilation of national accounts, and economic research and analysis, but that this information can only be as good as the data provided. Noting that not every customs administration is linked with statistical agencies, the WCO expressed hope that members will recognize the importance of such cooperation to improve the quality of their work in this regard.

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