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HTSUS, Customs and Nomenclature Changes

The Customs Tariff of the United States, known as the HTSUS, is the legal instrument that determines the classification of imported goods and the applicable tariffs.

The HTSUS is based on the World Customs Organization (WCO) Harmonized System nomenclature for Chapters 1 through 97 at the HS 6-digit level.

However, U.S. tariffs are applied at the 8-digit level and the nomenclature is at the 10-digit level, as the last two digits are suffixes for statistical purposes.

There are two other Chapters, 98 and 99, which contain special provisions for administering legislation, temporary modifications, the WTO Special Agricultural Safeguard (SSG) or other special tariff treatment.

There are two columns for tariff rates, “1” and “2”. Column “1” is divided into “General,” which applies to countries or territories that have normal trade relations with the United States, and “Special,” which implements special tariff treatment programs such as reciprocal and unilateral preferences.

HTSUS

Column “2” is for those countries that do not have normal trade relations and in 2021 applied only to Cuba and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

As a signatory to the WCO Harmonized System Convention, the United States is required to harmonize its nomenclature with the Convention and its amendments.

In 2019, the WCO approved recommended amendments to the Harmonized System nomenclature. The so-called “HS 2022” amendments entered into force on January 1, 2022, and Contracting Parties have committed to implement them by that date.

The United States started its domestic procedure in 2020 in accordance with Section 1205 of the General Trade and Competition Act of 1988.

Accordingly, following recommendations made to the President and subject to congressional consultation and waiting provisions, the President proclaimed these nomenclature changes on December 23, 2021, effective for the United States on January 27, 2022.

During the period under review, there were a high number of annual modifications or revisions to the HTSUS compared to previous years, not least 10 updates were introduced every year.

Many of these modifications were the result of Section 232 and Section 301 actions.

 

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