1. The Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification (AHECC) is designed for use by exporters, customs brokers and freight forwarders in the classification of goods when providing export declarations to the Department of Home Affairs, as well as to assist users in the interpretation of export statistics published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
2. The AHECC is based on the 6–digit items of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (Harmonized System or HS). The HS is a broad classification system of approximately 5,000 6–digit headings which are used to classify internationally traded goods as they enter or leave a country. It was developed 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.
3. Australia expands the international HS to produce two different classifications for imports and exports. These classifications are the Combined Australian Customs Tariff Nomenclature and Statistical Classification (referred to as the Customs Tariff or simply the Tariff) and the Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification (referred to as the AHECC).
4. In relation to the AHECC, the ABS expands each 6–digit HS code by adding an additional 2–digit statistical code in order to provide a finer level of detail. An AHECC code for exports therefore comprises eight digits.
5. The AHECC has a structure comprising four levels, namely, sections, chapters, headings and sub–headings. At the section level, the main purpose is to provide a limited number of categories which will provide a broad picture of the goods being internationally traded. The chapter (2–digit level), heading (4–digit level) and sub–headings (6–digit level) provide increasingly detailed dissections of the broad categories.
6. More details on the statistical items included in both the AHECC and Combined Australian Customs Tariff Nomenclature can be found in the 5489.0 International Merchandise Trade, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods.