On December 28, 2021, Presidential Proclamation 10326 directing the modification of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) was published in the Federal Register, triggering the 30-day implementation process.  As previously reported — see Update of November 23, 2021 — the recommended HTSUS modifications will primarily update the HTSUS to conform to amendments adopted by the World Customs Organization (WCO) in its recommendation of June 28, 2019.  The modifications will affect approximately 350 products and product groups that are classified in various chapters and will also  make conforming changes to the HTSUS nomenclature, including modifications of article descriptions and heading/subheading numbers.  Some modifications will modify section notes, chapter notes, additional U.S. notes and the general notes to the HTSUS.  Others will replace existing HTSUS headings and subheadings.  With publication of the proclamation in the Federal Register, these modifications will become effective on January 27, 2022.

In coordination with publication of the proclamation, the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) also published its final report on these HTSUS modifications.  The report, “Modifications to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States under Section 1206 of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 and for Other Purposes”, Publication No.: 5240, provides details on all of the HTSUS modifications and should be carefully reviewed by importers.

The proclamation also directs HTSUS changes to allow for the: (i) continuation of duty-free access through December 31, 2022 for certain agricultural products of Israel; (ii) continuation of duty treatment as to actions taken pursuant to section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974; (iii) correction of  certain technical errors to provide for the intended tariff treatment accorded to certain goods from Colombia and Singapore;  and (iv) continuation of staged duty reductions for goods under free trade agreements with the Dominican Republic-Central America, Peru, South Korea, Columbia, Panama, Canada and Mexico.

Notably, but as expected, the proclamation removes, effective January 1, 2022, Ethiopia, Guinea, and Mali as beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The Biden administration had previously notified Congress that it would be terminating these designations as these countries are no longer eligible for these reasons:  (i) Ethiopia – for gross violations of internationally-recognized human rights; (ii) Guinea – for not having established, or not making continual progress toward establishing, the protection of the rule of law and of political pluralism; and (iii) Mali – for not having established, or not making continual progress toward establishing, the protection of the rule of law, political pluralism and internationally-recognized worker rights and for not addressing gross violations of internationally-recognized human rights.  See Letter to Congress dated November 2, 2021.