The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has completed a two-and-one-half year investigation that has yielded proposals to modify the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS) to make it simpler, more transparent, and easier to use.
The ITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency charged with maintaining the HTS, completed the investigation for the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Ways and Means and the U.S. Senate's Committee on Finance. The investigation was instituted on November 5, 1997, and the ITC released a proposed schedule for public comment on March 31, 1999. Any actual modification to the HTS would require congressional and Presidential action.
The ITC's proposals, reflected in the draft tariff schedule included in its 1,350-page report, represent a 40 percent reduction in the number of HTS categories that were eligible for elimination. The report provides the legal text only and reflects rates of duty scheduled to be in effect in 2004. It makes additional recommendations to simplify the tariff schedule, including a reorganization of the General Notes to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule to improve their arrangement and understanding; the elimination of the Chemical Appendix; and the clarification of article descriptions.
Given the large volume of the report, interested parties are asked to review the document and chapters of interest initially on the ITC's web site at: www.usitc.gov/reports.htm (users should search for USITC Publication No. 3318). The report is posted in sections on the site, and users may find this the most efficient method of utilizing the report. All users are advised to obtain both the introductory section of the report and specific chapters of interest.
Printed copies of the full report will be produced only on a per-request basis. A delay of at least 10 working days should be anticipated to fill requests for printed copies of the report, and Washington-area requesters will be asked to pick up copies at the ITC Building. Requests for printed copies should be directed to the Office of the Secretary, Publications Section, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436. Requests by phone may be made at 202- 205-1809; requests may also be faxed to 202-205-2104.
ITC general factfinding investigations cover matters related to tariffs or trade and generally are conducted at the request of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Senate Committee on Finance, or the House Committee on Ways and Means. The resulting reports convey the Commission's objective findings and independent analyses on the subjects investigated. The ITC makes no recommendations on policy or other matters in its general factfinding reports. Upon completion of each investigation, the ITC submits its findings and analyses to the requester. The ITC subsequently releases general factfinding investigation reports to the public, unless they are classified by the requester for national security reasons.