5368.0.55.015 - Information Paper: Proposed Changes to Statistical Codes in the AHECC, 2012  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/03/2011  First Issue
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This information paper presents a draft of proposed changes to Merchandise trade export statistics that will apply from 1 January 2012. These changes are the result of an update to the International Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS), and a review of statistical codes.

This information paper provides a brief background to the 2012 changes to the Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification (AHECC). It also provides a comparative view of the existing and proposed 2012 hierarchical structure of the AHECC by chapter, and a correspondence between the 2007 and 2012 versions of the AHECC at the 8 digit level.

This paper also describes how clients can provide feedback on the proposed statistical code changes or draft correspondences. A similar consultative approach is planned for the 2012 changes to Merchandise trade import statistics, with the preliminary statistical structure scheduled for release on 13 May 2011.


Australia and most other countries use the HS for the classification of internationally traded goods that pass their country's customs frontier. The HS is a 6-digit hierarchical classification designed by the World Customs Organisation (WCO). This classification is updated every five years to keep the commodity codes relevant. While the international HS provides codes for over 5,000 commodities, in some cases further detail is required to enable identification of goods which are of particular interest or importance to Australia.

Australia extends the HS to produce the Combined Australian Customs Tariff Nomenclature and Statistical Classification (the Customs Tariff) to classify imports and the AHECC to classify exports. The extensions exist:

  • for Customs purposes, to differentiate between imported goods grouped under a single 6-digit HS code. This is generally driven by the need to impose varying import duty rates on similar goods. This is achieved by adding two digits to the HS code, making an 8-digit code. This extension is maintained by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs)
  • for statistical purposes, to provide a finer level of detail. This is achieved by adding two digits to the combination of HS and Customs 8-digit codes for imports (creating a 10-digit code) and to the 6-digit HS codes for exports (creating an 8-digit code). The statistical codes are maintained by the ABS.


It is mandatory for signatories to the HS convention (including Australia) to implement the revised international classification in its entirety on 1 January 2012.

The HS was first introduced on 1 January 1988 and has been subsequently revised in 1990, 1996, 2002 and 2007. The 2012 revisions affect 43 of the 98 chapters in the classification through note changes and/or classification changes. Extensive revisions have been made to the structure of the classification in Chapters 1 - 3, 16, 27, 29, 61 - 62, and 96. In some instances, the WCO has retained a code even where there has been a change in the scope of that code in the 2012 version. Users of the classification need to be aware of such instances.

The most significant changes are:
  • movement of goods in Chapters 30, 39, 48, 56, 61, 62, and 63 to a new code 9616.00 "Sanitary towels (pads) and tampons, napkins and napkin liners for babies and similar articles, of any material";
  • substantial re-arrangement of goods in Chapter 3 as well as moving some goods from Chapters 5 and 16 into this chapter; and
  • substantial re-arrangement of goods in Chapter 29 as well as moving some goods from Chapter 30 into this chapter.

In the hierarchy of the HS there were no changes made to either the description or the number of 2-digit chapters.

A number of new 4 and 6-digit codes have been created and a number of existing 4 and 6-digit codes ceased. Overall, there has been a small net increase in the number of these codes, as shown in the table below.
Number of HS codes (1)
4-digit headings1,2251,228
6-digit headings5,0565,206
(1) Counts includes only codes in the HS. It excludes codes in Chapter 99 (statistical codes and administrative codes) which is not part of the HS.

More information on the review is available on the World Customs Organisation website.


Changes made to the 6-digit HS codes impact on the Australian statistical code extensions. Further to this, the ABS has undertaken a review of the Australian statistical code extensions. A substantial review of statistical codes was last undertaken in 1997, with a limited review with HS 2002. These reviews strive to keep the statistical codes relevant to the needs of a wide range of users, while also limiting the size and complexity of the classification to assist accurate reporting, by ceasing statistical codes. The review considers:
  • goods which are no longer traded by Australia
  • low value trade and
  • accuracy of reporting.
The result of these investigations is the proposed ceasing of a number of statistical codes spread across many chapters. The changes resulting from these investigations will also be implemented on 1 January 2012. In some cases statistical codes are also impacted by changes as a result of HS2012 amendments. Free Standing Descriptors, which are designed for users of merchandise trade statistics, are also being rewritten for many chapters, but are not proposed to be released until December 2011.


The ABS has prepared a proposed AHECC, which is presented in spreadsheets showing the changes from 2007 to 2012. The spreadsheets are available from the Download tab. The first worksheet (Table 1) is the correspondence between ceasing codes and their proposed 2012 replacement codes. This enables users to identify the corresponding AHECC statistical code for a specific commodity as of 1 January 2012.

Each section of the classification is represented by a separate spreadsheet (Tables 2 - 21) and each spreadsheet comprises a worksheet for each chapter. The page set-up of the worksheet for each chapter is:
  • on the left hand side of the page, the current classification structure is shown
  • on the right hand side of the page, the proposed classification structure is shown, including codes which become operative on 1 January 2012. The last two digits of the proposed new codes end in letters - these are the proposed changes and their final codes have not yet been allocated

The complete current and proposed 2012 AHECC structures are shown. Statistical codes that are unchanged will retain their current 8-digit codes and will appear on the same line on both sides of the spreadsheet. In some cases the WCO has changed the description of a HS code (generally to clarify what should be reported), but there has been no change to the goods classified under that code. In these cases there is no change to the correspondence.

Any current statistical codes that are not shown in the proposed 2012 structure are proposed to be ceased. New codes will be lined up as closely as possible with the codes they replace. New codes are not given a complete 8-digit code, but the relevant HS 6-digit code and an extension of two characters. If there is only one changed statistical code under a HS 6-digit code it is allocated the suffix 'xx'. If there are more than one statistical codes under a HS 6-digit code then suffixes 'xx', 'xy' 'etc are allocated. When the final classification is released these suffixes will be replaced with digits to provide 8-digit codes. To identify the detail of which codes replace which codes these classification spreadsheets need to be used in conjunction with the correspondence in Table 1. The correspondence identifies codes that are proposed to cease and their replacement codes. Some codes are partially or completely replaced by codes in other chapters.

The following provides examples of the different types of changes that may occur with the introduction of the 2012 AHECC. These examples are taken from Chapter 1 which can be found in Table 2.1 in the spreadsheets. Correspondence information from Table 1 is shown for these examples. Note that the descriptions of the HS codes used in these examples are not necessarily the official HS descriptions and maybe abbreviated for illustrative purposes.


The WCO has ceased HS 0105.19 (Live poultry other than fowls of gallus domesticus and turkeys) and replaced it with:
  • HS 0105.13 (Ducks),
  • 0105.14 (Geese), and
  • 0105.15 (Guinea fowls).
This change means that the statistical code 01051901 will cease and be replaced by the codes 010513xx, 010514xx, and 010515xx. This is a change that is required under the WCO changes so is provided for information only, and is not subject to consultation.

Code(s) proposed to cease on 31/12/2011 (1)Replaced by:
01051901 010513xx
01051901 010514xx
01051901 010515xx
(1) The correspondence shown is available from Table 1 of the spreadsheets available from the Download tab.


The ABS is proposing to cease the existing statistical codes 01059401 and 01059402 and replace them with a single code 010594xx. This change is not a result of HS2012 changes, but is a proposal by the ABS based on a review of the trade patterns of these codes over several years. This is a change where the ABS is seeking feedback if this loss of statistical detail will have a significant impact on the quality of reporting or on the use of the data by industry or government.

Code(s) proposed to cease on 31/12/2011 (1)Replaced by:
01059401 010594xx
01059402 010594xx
(1) The correspondence shown is available from Table 1 of the spreadsheets available from the Download tab.


The WCO has ceased HS code 0102.10 (Live pure-bred breeding bovine animals) and changed the scope of 0102.90 (Other live bovine animals). Both of these two HS codes were split into two statistical codes for Beef and Dairy animals. The HS2012 structure is:
  • 0102.21 (Live pure breed breeding cattle),
  • 0102.29 (Other live cattle),
  • 0102.31 (Live pure-bred breeding buffalo),
  • 0102.39 (Other live buffalo), and
  • 0102.90 (Other live bovine animals excluding cattle and buffalo).

The proposed new structure includes a statistical code split for Beef and Dairy to the cattle codes (0102.21 and 0102.29) but not to the buffalo or other bovine animal codes. This is based on the expected trade in the new categories. The statistical codes under 0102.21 are shown as 010221xx and 010221xy, and under 0102.29 as 010229xx and 010229xy. Other 6-digit codes have no statistical split so only have the statistical code xx.

Code(s) proposed to cease on 31/12/2011 (1)Replaced by:
01021011 010221xx
01021011 010231xx
01021011 010290xx
01021012 010221xy
01021012 010231xx
01021012 010290xx
01029011 010229xx
01029011 010239xx
01029011 010290xx
01029012 010229xy
01029012 010239xx
01029012 010290xx
(1) The correspondence shown is available from Table 1 of the spreadsheets available from the Download tab.


Users of detailed international merchandise trade statistics may be affected when the changes to the AHECC are implemented on 1 January 2012. There will be breaks in the time series for some categories, or combinations of categories, where there is no direct translation between the current and 2012 versions of the classification. The ABS will not be backcasting any data to remove these breaks in series, but the classification correspondences will be available for users who wish to do their own analysis. At this stage, approximately 4,500 of the 6,000 statistical codes will be unaffected by the changes.

Confidentiality restrictions which apply to current statistical codes which are ceasing will continue to be applied to the proposed corresponding codes. Any new confidentiality restrictions applied from 1 January 2012 will be reviewed in 2012 as data become available. In addition, in accordance with normal procedures, the restrictions will be reviewed every two years, unless there are changes in trading patterns.


The ABS is intending to maintain the current statistical splits where there is a sufficient value of trade. However, there are widespread ceasing of statistical codes due to the review outlined above. The ABS would welcome comments on the proposed changes to the AHECC statistical codes outlined in the spreadsheets. Comments should include the following details:
  • the name of the organisation,
  • contact name,
  • telephone number,
  • email address,
  • the commodity code(s) to be changed or modified
  • the reasons for the requested change, including, as applicable, supporting industry or Government statements.

Further consultation with individual clients may be required once submissions have been received and before the AHECC can be finalised. After the consultation period, the AHECC to be implemented on 1 January 2012 is scheduled to be published in August 2011 in Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification (AHECC) - Electronic Publication (cat. no. 1233.0). The revised classification will become operative from 1 January 2012 and will be incorporated into the January 2012 issue of International Trade in Goods and Services, Australia (cat. no. 5368.0). Free Standing Descriptors for the 2012 codes will not be available until December 2011.

The proposed statistical codes for the 2012 Customs Tariff update will be available for comment (in a similar process to the AHECC) on 13 May 2011.


The ABS requests all feedback be provided by Monday 2 May 2011. Written submissions should be forwarded to:


or mailed to:

Classification and Confidentiality Manager
Balance of Payments and International Trade Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Locked Bag 10
Belconnen ACT 2616

Further information or queries regarding this paper should be directed to Andrew Gibbs of the Balance of Payments and International Trade Section on (02) 6252 5409 or via email international.trade@abs.gov.au.


AHECCAustralian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification
CustomsAustralian Customs and Border Protection Service
Customs TariffCombined Australian Customs Tariff Nomenclature and Statistical Classification
HSInternational Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System
WCOWorld Customs Organisation