On 9 October 2017, the WCO announced that the Harmonized System Committee (HSC) held its 60th Session from 27 September to 6 October 2017 at WCO Headquarters in Brussels. The session was attended by 169 participants representing 78 Contracting Parties to the HS Convention, one WCO Member administration and three international organizations. The announcement stated that:
During his opening address Mr. Ping LIU, Director of Tariff and Trade Affairs, referred to the symbolic and historic importance of this gathering; the Harmonized System Committee was now celebrating its 60th Session, thus exceeding the number of sessions held by its predecessor, the old Nomenclature Committee. Since its first session, held in April 1988, the Harmonized System Committee had examined 4,144 Agenda items and taken 2,230 decisions.
Over the years, the number of Contracting Parties to the Harmonized System Committee had grown from 4 in 1985 to 156 today, and the number of countries and Economic and/or Customs Unions that used the HS now stood at 209.
In the course of its recent sessions, the Committee had adopted innovative approaches for dealing with a number of challenges, including how to take account of technological developments and requests related to environmental issues, all of which were assuming increasing importance.
The Director also highlighted the tasks that lay in store for the Committee, saying he was confident that it would be able to step up the pace of its decisions thanks to a speedier decision-making process.
During the 60th Session, the HSC took some 50 classification decisions related to products covered by the HS Nomenclature, in at least seven different areas. The Committee adopted 18 sets of amendments to the Explanatory Notes and approved 21 new Classification Opinions.
As part of the work to prepare the Seventh Edition of the HS (HS 2022), six sets of amendments to the Nomenclature were provisionally adopted, and some decisions on the classification of goods were submitted to the HS Review Sub-Committee for consideration of possible amendments to the Nomenclature to facilitate the classification of various products, such as 3D printers for example, and motor vehicle windscreens.
Productive discussions were held on how to classify products newly released on to the world market, in areas which included cutting-edge technology (for example, equipment for manufacturing LCD modules), the food industry (for example, blanched green shell mussels), and the tobacco industry, with a useful exchange on how to classify new tobacco products.
Another notable aspect of the Committee’s work was an intervention made by Mexico to withdraw a reservation it had entered in respect of the classification of a commodity, in keeping with the approach adopted by the Council at its 129th/130th Sessions to limit the number of reservations entered by administrations in respect of decisions taken by the Committee.