WTO: 2010 NEWS ITEMS

  

Tariff Analysis Online (See also explanation and user guide) draws on two WTO databases: the Integrated Database (IDB) of tariff and import data, and the Consolidated Tariff Schedules, which contains WTO members’ commitments on tariffs and agricultural subsidies.

It provides users with flexible search criteria and produces a range of analytical reports — the results of the searches — covering both tariffs and imports, in detail and summary levels. Users can manipulate the analysis online and download and print the resulting reports.

The development of the new service is in line with the Market Access Committee’s decision of 13 July 2009 to make detailed information on tariffs available to the public.

The existing Tariff Download Facility (See also explanation and user guide) is simpler and would be the service of choice for users looking for more basic information. It provides standardized statistical information on bound, applied and preferential tariffs on products defined in slightly less detail, by Harmonized System (HS) six-digit codes, with the ability to compare between countries swiftly.

A third service, the World Tariff Profiles, provides similar information to that of the Tariff Download Facility but for broader product categories.
The legally bound commitments on customs duty rates, which act as ceilings on the tariffs that member governments can set are known as “bound rates”. The rates that governments actually charge on imports, which can be lower, are known as “applied rates” and have a direct impact on trade. All of these services provide data on both bound and applied rates.

 

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Customs codes and standardization 

Products in the databases are identified using the World Customs Organization’s internationally agreed “Harmonized System” (HS).

Under the system, the broadest categories of products are identified by two-digit “chapters” (e.g. 04 is dairy products, eggs and other edible animal products). These are then sub-divided by adding more digits: the higher the number of digits, the more detailed the categories. For example the four-digit code or “heading” 0403 is a group of products derived from milk. At six digits, 0403.10 is the “sub-heading” for yoghurt; at the eight-digit level, 0403.10.11 could be low-fat yoghurt “tariff line”.

The codes are standard up to six digits, the most detailed level that can be compared internationally. This is used in the Tariff Download Facility. Beyond that, countries are free to use their own definitions according to their individual requirements, and this is reflected in the new Tariff Analysis Online.

Both Tariff Analysis Online and the Tariff Download Facility allow data to be downloaded in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and other formats.

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Jargon buster

ad valorem (AV): a tariff rate charged as percentage of the price

applied rates: duties that are actually charged on imports. These can be below the bound rates

bound rates (tariff binding): commitment not to increase a rate of duty beyond an agreed level. Once a rate of duty is bound, it may not be raised without compensating the affected parties

digits, digit-level: (tariffs) a reference to the codes used to identify products. Categories of products are subdivided by adding digits. See Harmonized System

Harmonized System: World Customs Organization’s system of code numbers for identifying products. The codes are standard up to six digits. Beyond that countries can introduce national distinctions for tariffs and many other purposes

MFN (most-favoured-nation) tariff: normal non-discriminatory tariff charged on imports (excludes preferential tariffs under free trade agreements and other schemes or tariffs charged inside quotas)

schedules: (for goods) list of bound tariff rates

tariff line (TL in the tables): a product, as defined by a system of code numbers for tariffs

> More jargon: glossary
 

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