How to get new tariff codes created for your products

Tariff codes or HS codes facilitate the identification of products in international trade. Importantly, they assist Customs to determine applicable import or export duties payable. Furthermore, tariff codes help Customs enforce measures relating to rules of origin, import, or export controls, licensing requirements, and quotas.

6 digits and 8 digits tariff codes

The South African tariff book contains tariff codes at 6 digits and 8 digits level. The 6 digits tariff codes are the same for all countries around the world. However, tariff codes at 8 digits level differ between countries depending on the needs of the local industry. SARS can split or separate products classified in 6 digits tariff codes into specific 8 digits tariff codes that describe products in more granular detail.

Using pineapple juice and cranberry juice as an example. Tariff code 2009.81.10 is at an 8 digits code and the exact type of cranberry juice is described in detail. In contrast tariff code 2009.41 (pineapple juice) is described in less detail.

Furthermore, tariff code 2009.49 contains all other numerous types or grades of orange juice that do not fall under 2009.41. The “Other” tariff code makes it a problem to monitor import volumes and FOB prices of orange juice competing with locally produced orange juice.

Pineapple juice:
2009.41-- Of a Brix value not exceeding 20
2009.49 -- Other
Cranberry juice:
2009.81.10 --- Concentrated, not containing added sugar or other 
               sweetening matter, of a Brix value exceeding 45

Many products manufactured or produced locally are still classified in 6 digits level tariff codes. This is despite the advantages provided by 8 digits level tariff codes.

Advantages of 8 digit tariff codes

8 digits tariff codes provide a number of advantages, especially for local manufacturers or producers.

First, it becomes possible to accurately monitor import competition because trade statistics for the specific product will be more reliable. This includes statistics on imported quantities, average FOB import prices, and countries of origin among others.

Second, 8 digits tariff codes assist industries or manufacturing companies to identify threatening import trends on specific products before significant harm is done. Appropriate protection instruments to reduce the possible harm can be applied.

Exporters also benefit from tariff codes described in granular detail because useful information such as export destinations, average export FOB prices, actual volumes, and values will be more accurate and useful for decision making.

Creating new 8 digits tariff codes for your products

8 digits tariff codes are created once annually by SARS. Please note, this does not apply to new tariff codes created as part of a duty increase, duty removal, temporary or industrial rebate.

A local manufacturer, producer, or industry association can make an application for new 8 digits tariff codes. The proposed granular product description accompanies the application.

The deadline for applications is 31 August 2020. Applications are made well in advance because any queries raised by SARS should be corrected before the deadline. The new tariff codes are implemented from 1 January 2021.

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