On 1 January 1988 Australia adopted a new international classification system, the Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System (HCDCS) for describing goods internationally traded. The HCDCS is more generally known as the Harmonised System (HS) and forms the basis for administering Australia's imports and exports and for the collection and dissemination of detailed international trade statistics. The HS was updated in 1996 and implemented in ABS International Trade statistics in July 1996.
All import and export transactions are reported to the Australian Customs Service (ACS) according to the following two classifications, which are extensions of the HS.
Import statistics are collected according to the Combined Australian Customs Tariff and Statistical Nomenclature (commonly referred to as the Harmonised Tariff).
Export statistics are collected according to the Australian Harmonised Export Commodity Classification (AHECC).
The HS is also used in defining categories of domestically produced goods as detailed in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Commodity Classification (ANZSCC).
Purpose of the classification
The HS has been developed to:
- provide international uniformity in classifying and coding goods;
- update the previously used Customs Co-operation Council Nomenclature (CCNN) to reflect technological developments and changes in the pattern of internationally traded goods; and
As a signatory to the Harmonised System Convention, Australia is obliged to collect and publish trade statistics according to all the codes of the HS, with exception of confidential data. There is provision to extend the HS to meet the specific needs of local data users where they require finer level data.
The HS is supported by a four volume set of explanatory notes which defines its categories.
Structure of the classification
- simplify the collection, analysis and comparison of international trade statistics.
The HS has a 6 digit structure reflecting commodities that are significant in world trade. Australia's import and export classifications at the 6 digit level are identical to the HS and, consequently, to the international trade classifications used by other countries that have adopted the HS. An example of the HS structure is given in the tables at the end of this section.
The hierarchical arrangement of the HS categories is as follows:
- 98 Chapters at the 2 digit level
- 1260 Headings at the 4 digit level
- 5142 Subheadings at the 6 digit level.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SITC (REV 3) AND HS (an example)
SITC SUB-GROUP 075.2 - SPICES (EXCEPT PEPPER AND PIMENTO)
|Cinnamon and cinnamon tree flowers neither crushed nor ground|
|Cinnamon and cinnamon tree flowers crushed or ground|
|Cloves (whole fruit, cloves and stems)|
Australian Harmonised Export Commodity Classification
The AHECC has been developed for the identification of exports by Australian Customs and for the collection and compilation of export commodity statistics by the ABS.
The Australian Harmonised Export Commodity Classification (AHECC) extends the international 6 digit HS code by adding two digits to provide a finer level of detail.
Combined Australian Customs Tariff Nomenclature and Statistical Classification (the Harmonised Tariff)
The Harmonised Tariff has been developed for administering the duty provisions of the Customs Tariff Act (1987) and for the collection and compilation of import statistics used by the ABS.
The Harmonised Tariff extends the international 6 digit HS code by adding 2 digits for use by the ACS where different import duty rates apply to certain goods under a particular 6 digit item and 2 final digits (making a total of 10 digits) to provide a fine level of statistical dissection.
Standard International Trade Classification (Revision 3)
The Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) was developed primarily by the United Nations Statistical Office for international statistical purposes, including comparative economic analysis. While the HS classification groups commodities by the material the goods are composed of, SITC groups goods according to the level of manufacturing or processing. The hierarchy of the HS is orientated more towards the requirements of Customs administration activity.
The third revision of the SITC, known as SITC (Rev 3), was developed to keep the SITC in step with the HS and was introduced with the HS on 1 January, 1998. SITC (Rev 3) is used by the ABS for dissemination of broad level import and export statistics.
Categories in the SITC (Rev 3) are composed of one or more whole HS items thereby permitting the direct reaggregation of data collected according to the HS. The table below gives an example of this relationship.
The hierarchical structure of the SITC (Rev 3) is as follows:
- 68 Divisions at the 2 digit level
- 262 Groups at the 3 digit level
- 1034 Subgroups at the 4 digit level
- 3133 basic headings at the 5 digit level.
Further information may be obtained through the following products:
- Australian Harmonised Export Commodity Classification (AHECC) (cat. no. 1233.0).
- Combined Australian Customs Tariff Nomenclature and Statistical Classification, issued by the Australian Customs Service.
The AHECC and its replacement pages are released electronically on the ABS web site free of charge. When changes to the AHECC are required, updates are applied in January and June of each year.
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