Some multinational importers used the convention to justify classification of goods at the subheading level by adopting “global” tariff. In 1989, as part of an international effort to adopt a common nomenclature across nations, see Carl Zeiss, Inc. v. United States, 195 F.3d 1375, 1378 n.1 (Fed. Cir. 1999), the United States agreed to adopt the headings and subheadings (up to the six digit level) established under the international Harmonized Schedule, but reserved the right to create further subdivisions beyond the six digit level. See International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Article 3(3). Witex, U.S.A., Inc. v. United States, 28 C.I.T. 1907, 1918 (Ct. Int’l Trade 2004), reversed on other grounds in Witex, U.S.A., Inc. v. United States, 333 Fed. Appx. 569 (Fed. Cir. 2009). Article 3, International Convention on the Harmonized System, to which the United States is a signatory, obliges parties to “use all the headings and subheadings of the Harmonized System without addition or modification, together with their related numerical codes.” While “global” tariff may comport to the spirit of the convention, there still remains a possibility of disagreement about the correct heading application and interpretation between the Untied States and other signatories.
Published December 1, 2011 by Yuri Starikov