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Definition: Harmonized System


The Harmonized System (HS) is a classification of goods by criteria based on raw materials and the stage of production of commodities. The industrial origin criterion is considered whenever it is compatible with he main criteria set out above. It also includes a set of explanatory notes and binding rules for interpretation which form part of the Protocol of Agreement. 

The HS is at the heart of the whole process of harmonisation of international economic classifications being jointly conducted by the United Nations Statistics Division and Eurostat.  Its items and sub-items are the fundamental terms on which industrial goods are identified in product classifications. 

Objectives: to harmonise a) external trade classifications to guarantee direct correspondence; and b) countries' external trade statistic and to guarantee that these are comparable internationally (Source: Spanish National Statistical Institute).

The HS is in principle, revised every few years; next revision is planned to come into force on 1 January 2002. It is managed by the World Customs Organisation.