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, and countries are beginning their individual processes to incorporate those changes into their own domestic product category systems.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) is the federal agency charged with maintaining and updating the United States' product category system, the U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS). The USITC today instituted an investigation that will lead to recommendations to the President on necessary modifications to the U.S. HTS.
The U.S. and other countries have until January 1, 2017, to incorporate the changes, but much work lies ahead, according to Jim Holbein, director of the USITC 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," Holbein said. "If they believe they will be affected, they will want to stay on top of the process as it moves forward."
The USITC has posted the WCO document outlining the changes on its website at: http://www.usitc.gov/tariff_affairs/WCORecommendationofJune272014.pdf.
USITC nomenclature analysts are analyzing the WCO document, and the Commission expects to issue proposed recommendations on changes to the HTS in December 2014. At that time, the USITC will seek public comments on the proposed recommendations. Detailed information on how to submit comments and related deadlines will be provided at that time.
The USITC will consider all public comments, as well as comments from other U.S. agencies, in making its recommendations. The recommendations will be submitted to the President (through the U.S. Trade Representative) by July 2015. Following expiration of a 60-day layover period before the Congress, the President may proclaim the modifications to the HTS.
More information about the USITC investigation can be found in the notice of investigation dated August 20, 2014.