The ABS has responsibility for the maintenance of all aspects of the statistical code component of the AHECC. This maintenance role includes updating the classifications by evaluating requests from users of international trade statistics for additions or changes to statistical detail. It should be noted, however, that the ABS cannot make any changes to the 6-digit HS codes for exports, as this level of the classification is determined by the WCO.
In attempting to satisfy the statistical needs of a wide range of users, the ABS strives to keep the classification comprehensive, detailed and current. At the same time, however, it is necessary to limit the size and complexity of the classification in order to minimise reporting problems for exporters, importers or their agents when completing Customs documentation and to ensure accurate reporting. Additionally, account must be taken of the ongoing costs to the ABS associated with editing and processing the data and in maintaining the classifications.
The ABS receives many requests for the creation of new statistical codes. Such requests will only be considered where they are deemed to be in the interests of the industry concerned, as well as in the public interest. Requests of a purely market research nature will not be considered. Each request must, therefore, have the written support of a relevant government department, authority or industry association. Statements of support from government agencies or industry associations should include the reasons for that support and, in the latter case, a listing of the current members of the particular association.
In addition, higher priority is afforded to requests for changes:
Requests to correct the classification will not require industry or government support where the request is aimed at:
- which will enable government policy to be formulated, administered or monitored; and,
- from an industry experiencing or threatened with disruption from imports, where the statistics required would be significant in submissions to, for instance, the Productivity Commission.
The ABS applies a two phase approach to classification feasibility studies (CFS), which are cost recovered. An initial review is undertaken and, if justified, a more detailed review. A flat charge applies for the initial study. This initial study allows the ABS to identify any potential problems (e.g. confidentiality restrictions) early in the process, and thus may save the client the cost of a detailed feasibility study.
The price charged for a detailed study will depend on the number of commodity items to be investigated and the overall complexity of the changes requested. The written quote provided to each client will be based on the estimated hours and associated computing costs required to complete their particular review and to implement, where applicable, its findings.
Changes are normally made to the AHECC on 1 January and 1 July of each year. Deadlines for proposals are the preceeding 1 October and 1 March respectively. The ABS reserves the right to withdraw statistical code splits which have proved unworkable.
- clarifying a classification structure where it is possible to classify a commodity to more than one statistical code;
- correcting a classification structure where a commodity cannot be allocated to any statistical code;
- correcting a classification structure to remove incorrectly allocated statistical codes; and,
- updating a classification structure to reflect current terminology.