Goods classification documents adopted by the 67th session of the Harmonized System Committee published

06.09.2021

Legal Update No 866

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (Russia) LLP, formerly Goltsblat BLP in Russia, advises that the World Customs Organization’s Harmonized System Committee (the WCO Committee) has published documents on classification of certain goods as per the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System adopted at its 67th session in April 2021.

The publication includes 39 Classification Decisions, nine amendments to the HS Explanatory Notes and nine Classification Opinions based on classification decisions taken by the WCO Committee at its previous session.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (hereinafter the Harmonized System) is the international basis for the EAEU Commodity Classification for Foreign Trade (TN VED EAEU). All EAEU member-states take part in the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System dated 14.06.1983 (the Convention) so, in their law-enforcement practice, take into account the classification decisions and opinions of the WCO Committee, as well as the explanatory notes to the Harmonized System.

The published classification documents are called on to ensure uniform interpretation and application of the Harmonized System, as well as of national commodity classifications based on the Harmonized System.

The WCO Committee’s classification decisions concern the following goods:

  • foodstuffs and beverages (protein cocktails, dietetic nutrition mixes, frozen small sweetcorn cobs, sweetcorn cobs, skim coconut milk, herbal tea concentrates, aloe concentrates);

  • some International Non-proprietary Name products (INN);

  • essential oils;

  • distilled monoglycerides;

  • 3D printer runners;

  • plastic rubbish bins;

  • some types of pneumatic tyre;

  • steam-generating units;

  • medical sterilisers (using formaldehyde)

  • articulated-boom hoists;

  • floor polishing brushes;

  • electricity-generating units;

  • electronic speed regulators;

  • hybrid vehicles;

  • LED light boxes.

The Classification Opinions based on previous classification decisions and entered on the WCO Committee’s classification decision register relate to the following goods:

  • propolis;

  • tobacco sticks for tobacco heating systems;

  • liquefied petroleum gas;

  • sheet glass manufactured by the overflow down draw (fusion draw) method;

  • twisted wire hawser;

  • variant refrigerant flow (VRF) system outdoor unit (component of heating, cooling and air-conditioning systems);

  • mobile trailer home;

  • vehicle first aid kit;

  • polyurethane anti-stress ball.

The Amendments to the Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized System relate to the following goods items: 2409, 2939, 7323, 8703, 9503 and 9505.

The full English text of the published classification documents can be found on the World Customs Organization’s website at http://www.wcoomd.org/en/topics/nomenclature/instrument-and-tools/tools-to-assist-with-the-classification-in-the-hs/hs_classification-decisions/classification-decisions.aspx.

The WCO Committee documents interpreting the provisions of the Harmonized System are soft law acts. They contain a rule (recommendation) for classifying certain goods but are not legally binding on the Convention member-states.

Yet Russian and EAEU law-enforcement practice proceeds from customs authorities not being entitled to refuse to take the classification decisions and opinions of the WCO Committee into consideration, and from the decisions and opinions themselves being necessary for realising the principle of legal determinacy in goods classification.

It should be kept in mind the Convention member-states have the right to notify the World Customs Organization (WCO) that they are unable to apply any given classification decision or opinion adopted by the WCO Committee. As per the WCO recommendations, such a notification should substantiate why it is not possible to apply the given classification decision or opinion.

As of the date of this overview, we do not have information that the Russian Federation has submitted any notifications of being unable to apply any of the documents adopted by the 67th session of the WCO Committee and approved by the WCO itself.

Account must also be taken that the position of the ECE Panel on classification of certain goods might differ from that of the WCO Committee. In this event, the governing decisions are those of the ECE Panel, being universally binding regulations throughout the EAEU.

The classification decisions and opinions adopted by the WCO Committee might have significant consequences for companies importing goods into the Russian Federation.

In particular, importers may refer to these documents in substantiating the customs classification of goods during customs clearance or subsequent challenges to customs authority decisions and actions. The given documents may also be used to justify the need for reclassification of already imported goods.

Even so, it should be remembered that customs authorities, too, may reclassify previously imported goods and impose additional customs charges, or recall previously issued goods classification decisions if it turns out that the classification applied does not comply with the approach set forth in the WCO Committee’s classification decisions and opinions.


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