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5368.0.55.017 - Information paper: Changes to AHECC and Customs Tariff, 2012  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/12/2011  First Issue
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INTRODUCTION

This information paper provides further information regarding the recent releases of the Australian Harmonized Exports Commodity Classification (AHECC) and Combined Australian Customs Tariff Nomenclature and Statistical Classification (Customs Tariff) codes that apply from 1 January 2012. These releases are a result of an update to the international Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS), and a review of existing statistical codes. The updated AHECC was initially released on the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) website on 22 August 2011 with an update on 15 November 2011. The updated Customs Tariff was released on the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service website on 1 November 2011.

The paper provides a brief background to the changes to classifications and correspondences between the codes of the current and the updated versions of the AHECC and the Customs Tariff, and correspondences from 2012 versions of the AHECC and the Customs Tariff to related classifications. It describes how to access the 2012 AHECC and the 2012 Customs Tariff.


BACKGROUND

The HS is a broad classification system used to classify internationally traded goods as they enter or leave a country. It was developed by, and is maintained by, the World Customs Organization (WCO). First introduced on 1 January 1988, it has been adopted by most trading nations, including Australia. It enables information on traded goods to be compared internationally.

Australia expands the six–digit international HS to produce separate export and import classifications. These classifications are the AHECC and the Customs Tariff.

  • The AHECC adds a two digit statistical code to the six–digit international HS to produce an eight–digit export statistical code, to provide a finer level of detail to meet Australian statistical requirements. The statistical codes are maintained by the ABS.
  • The Customs Tariff adds two sets of two digit codes to the six–digit international HS. A seventh and eighth digit are added for customs purposes to differentiate between imported goods grouped under a single six–digit HS code. Such differentiation is generally driven by the need to impose varying import duty rates on similar goods. This extension to the HS is maintained by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. A ninth and tenth digit are added for statistical purposes, to provide a finer level of detail. The statistical codes are maintained by the ABS.

The AHECC and Customs Tariff are designed for use by exporters, importers, customs brokers and freight forwarders in the classification of goods when providing declarations to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, and to assist users interpret export and import statistics published by the ABS.


UPDATES TO THE CLASSIFICATIONS

The HS is reviewed by the WCO on a systematic basis to ensure it: reflects newly developed commodities and changes in the types of commodities traded; meets administrative requirements (e.g. for the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade); and minimises the burden on data providers by requesting only the level of detail that is administratively and statistically relevant. Major changes are normally implemented only every five years, and the latest review (HS 2012) is the fifth major revision of the HS.

In addition to changes resulting from HS 2012, a review was conducted by the ABS to identify statistical codes that did not have a reasonable value of trade. Where such codes were identified, a merge of statistical codes was proposed. There were also a small number of changes to Units of Quantity that resulted in statistical code changes. These proposals were published on the ABS website and interested parties were given the opportunity to comment. Submissions were considered and, where appropriate, incorporated into the final versions of the AHECC and Customs Tariff classifications.

The latest issues of the AHECC and the Customs Tariff incorporating HS 2012 and the statistical code review become operative on 1 January 2012.

The revision of the AHECC resulted in the creation of 980 new AHECC 8–digit codes and the cessation of 1,443 AHECC 8–digit codes. In the Customs Tariff, 1,341 new Customs Tariff 10–digit codes were created and 2,312 Customs Tariff 10–digit codes ceased.

Between the major HS reviews, the ABS implements minor updates to the statistical codes of the AHECC and Customs Tariff on 1 January and 1 July each year. Statistical codes of the Customs Tariff can also be updated throughout the year as a result of changes made by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service for administrative purposes.


REVIEW OF FREE STANDING DESCRIPTORS

Free Standing Descriptors (FSDs) are a label produced by the ABS that provides a description of the commodities covered by a particular code. Free Standing Descriptors are provided with statistics from Merchandise Imports and Exports collections. They are produced for 2–digit, 4–digit and 6–digit levels for both the AHECC and the Customs Tariff. They are also produced for the 8–digit AHECC and 10–digit Customs Tariff. These are designed to give a general idea of the contents of a code. For classification of goods, referencing back to the AHECC or Customs tariff is essential. Whenever new commodity codes are developed, new FSDs are produced. Some commodity codes are over 20 years old and their FSDs had not been reviewed in a methodical way. A review of FSDs for the first 15 Chapters of the AHECC and Customs Tariff was conducted in 2007. A further review has recently been conducted and FSDs in Chapters 01 through to 50, excluding Chapters 28 and 29, were reviewed. There is no plan to review FSDs for the remaining chapters. Revised FSDs for 8–digit AHECC and 10–digit Customs Tariff are provided in Tables 3 and 4, respectively. These include changes to some codes which will be closing at the end of 2011.

FSDs for commodity codes opening on 1 January 2012 and revised FSDs for ongoing codes will be provided with statistical information provided for export and import data for January 2012 reference month onwards. FSDs for the AHECC are also available in Table 24 of the AHECC 2012.


INFORMATION TABLES

Four tables are produced in this information paper. These are available on the 'Details tab'.
  • Table 1. "Correspondence between AHECC 2011 and AHECC 2012" shows the correspondences between the AHECC 8–digit codes that are ceasing and those that are being created.
  • Table 2. "Correspondence between Customs Tariff 2011 and Customs Tariff 2012" shows the correspondences between the Customs Tariff 10–digit codes that are ceasing and those that are being created.
  • Table 3. "AHECC correspondences to other classifications" shows for each AHECC 8–digit code operative from 1 January 2012, correspondences to other classifications, the Unit of Quantity (UQ), and FSDs. This information is produced in two sheets in the table. Table 3.1 shows codes included in the AHECC and used in the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service Integrated Cargo System (ICS). Table 3.2 shows a small number of codes that are produced by the ABS for output purposes only.
  • Table 4. "Customs Tariff correspondences to other classifications" shows each Customs Tariff code, correspondences to other classifications, the Unit of Quantity (UQ) and FSDs. Table 4.1 shows codes included in the Customs Tariff and used in the ICS. Table 4.2 shows a small number of codes that are produced by the ABS for output purposes only.

Tables 1 and 2 can be used to identify where codes have ceased operating and where information classified to those codes should be classified from 1 January 2012. The information is presented in two formats, the first columns (eg. in Table 1 AHECC 2012 and AHECC 2011) show the codes operative from 1 January 2012 and the codes ceasing that they replaced. The third and fourth columns (eg. in Table 2 Customs Tariff 2011 and Customs Tariff 2012) shows the same information but, it is sorted by the codes that ceased and then showing the codes that replaced them.

Note that if a statistical code does not appear in the 2011 columns in these tables it means that it has not been affected by these reviews and will continue to operate as previously.

For example Table 1 shows the following AHECC code changes for 0101 (Live horses, asses, mules and hinnies):
AHECC 2012AHECC 2011AHECC 2011AHECC 2012
01012100010110200101102001012100
01012900010190300101109101013000
01013000010110910101903001012900
01013000010190930101909301013000
01019040010190930101909301019040

This shows that all exports previously classified to AHECC code 01011020 (Live pure–bred breeding horses) should now be classified to 01012100. Similarly, all exports classified to 01011091 (Live pure–bred breeding asses, mules and hinnies) should now be classified to 01013000 (Live asses), and exports of 01019030 (Live horses (excl. pure–bred breeding horses) should be classified to 01012900. Information classified to the code 01019093 (Live asses, mules and hinnies (excl. pure–bred breeding animals) could now be classified to either 01013000 (Live asses) or 01019040 (Live mules and hinnies).

Table 3 shows, for each AHECC code operative from 1 January 2012, correspondences to the Standard International Trade Classification Revision 4 (SITC Rev. 4), Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification, 2006 (ANZSIC 2006) and Broad Economic Categories (BEC); the Unit of quantity (UQ) and Free Standing Descriptor (FSD). Table 3.1 shows codes that are valid codes within the ICS (ie. can be used to lodge exports declarations). Table 3.2 contains two further codes used to output export information on aggregate confidential data.

Table 4 shows, for each Customs Tariff code, correspondences to SITC Rev. 4, ANZSIC 2006, BEC, Balance of Payments Broad Economic Categories (BOPBEC); the Unit of Quantity (UQ) and Free Standing Descriptor (FSD). Table 4.1 shows codes that are valid codes within the ICS (i.e. can be used to lodge imports declarations). For imports there are about 60 other codes used to output extra data for some beer and wine codes that have two Units of quantity (Litres of alcohol and Litres), some additional codes to split non–merchandise trade, and two additional codes to output aggregated confidential data. These are shown in Table 4.2.


TIME SERIES

With the introduction of HS 2012 there will be a break in some merchandise trade export and import series. As changes to the HS are significant, it is not practical to maintain time series of HS–based merchandise trade statistics. This is the normal practice for managing changes to the Customs Tariff and AHECC. However, the correspondences mentioned above between the 2011 and 2012 codes can assist users of these detailed statistics.


CONFIDENTIALITY

International merchandise trade statistics may be confidentialised by the ABS to prevent the identification of the activities of individual exporters and importers. This occurs when a confidentiality review is requested by the individual or organisation concerned and the review determines that the data would otherwise be identifiable.

The ABS is assessing existing confidentiality restrictions as part of the HS 2012 review. Confidentiality that applies to current codes will be transferred to the relevant 2012 AHECC and Customs Tariff codes. Details of confidentiality restrictions are advised each month in International Merchandise Trade: Confidential Commodities List (cat. no. 5372.0.55.001). Restrictions applying to merchandise trade data for the January 2012 reference month are scheduled for release on 8 February 2012. Confidentiality restrictions rolled forward to new operative codes will be reviewed when sufficient data is available. For details, please contact the Confidentiality Manager on 02 6252 5409.


ACCESSING THE AHECC

The AHECC 2012 is only available in electronic format. The classification can be accessed from the ABS website <www.abs.gov.au>:
a. select Statistics, By Catalogue Number, 12. Classifications and work manuals, cat. no. 1233.0; or
b. select Topics @ a Glance, Economy – Foreign Trade, Using Foreign Trade Statistics, Classification; or
c. direct from this link: AHECC 2012.

The AHECC consists of an introduction, abbreviations, summary of the classification, key of changes, section and chapter notes, and classification codes. Individual chapters are provided in Excel format and can be printed, except for Table 24. Table 24 provides the complete classification in Excel format, including Free Standing Descriptors.

Note that codes in this version of the AHECC become operative for exports leaving from 1 January 2012. For exports departing prior to this date the 2007 version of the AHECC (accessible from this link: AHECC 2007) will continue to be used.


ACCESSING THE CUSTOMS TARIFF

An Acrobat (PDF) version of the Customs Tariff is available from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service website <www.customs.gov.au> select import export then select customs tariff or via this link: Customs Tariff. The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service also provides (for a fee) a hard copy of the Customs Tariff.


FURTHER INFORMATION

If you have any difficulties accessing the AHECC or the correspondences from the ABS website please use the contact information shown below. If you require further information about the changes, please:
  • visit the ABS website and select Topics @ a Glance, Economy – Foreign Trade, Using Foreign Trade Statistics, Classification; or
  • write, email or telephone:

HS 2012 Review Team
Balance of Payments and International Trade Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics
PO Box 10
BELCONNEN ACT 2616

email: international.trade@abs.gov.au
ph: 02 6252 5409


ABBREVIATIONS

ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
AHECCAustralian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification
ANZSIC 2006Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification, 2006
BECBroad Economic Categories
BOPBECBalance of Payments Broad Economic Categories
Customs TariffCombined Australian Customs Tariff Nomenclature and Statistical Classification
FSDFree Standing Descriptors
HSInternational Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System
ICSAustralian Customs and Border Protection Service Integrated Cargo System
SITC Rev. 4Standard International Trade Classification, Revision 4
UQUnit of Quantity
WCOWorld Customs Organisation


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