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HaoLiWen Launched Tariff Classification Center
2016.02.01
HaoLiWen Tariff Classification Center is launched as from January 1, 2016 and affiliated to the Customs & Trade Practice of HaoLiWen Partners. This Center is dedicated to providing reliable and professional legal services to assist clients in all aspects of customs classification related matters occurring during the businesses of importation/exportation, import processing and bonded logistics in China.
 
Who are the key members of the Center?
 
The Center is comprised of customs classification experts in China and highly experienced lawyers with proven track records and established credentials in the tariff classification advice and dispute resolution in China.
 
Mingming DAI, customs classification expert (former Deputy Chief of the Shanghai Branch of National Import and Export Commodity Classification Center, former Director of the Shanghai Customs Laboratory Center, and former Deputy Head and Research Fellow of the Statistics Department of Shanghai Customs), serves as the Center’s first Head. With over 30 years’ experiences and expertise in the pre-classification, tariff measures research and review, HS Code management, classification dispute resolution and other customs-related matters, Mr. DAI has been highly praised by his peers in the country. Huaqiang WANG, a current senior faculty member of Shanghai Customs College specialized in the tariff classification research and teaching, also serves as the Center’s Senior Consultant.
 
The Center will also include Parry ZHOU, Deming ZHAO (both Senior Partners) and Shu HAN (Partner), members of HaoLiWen’s Customs & Trade Practice, who have exceptional experience and expertise in advising clients on the pre-classification of imports/exports, HS Code compliance, risk exposure analysis and defense strategies in connection with possible misclassification challenges, and representing clients in various customs investigation cases (such as tariff classification dispute at customs clearance, customs audit, customs’ administrative review, criminal investigation and criminal proceedings) where a misclassification challenge was involved or raised. They also have advised clients on the filing for favored adjustments on the tariff measures for particular products.
 
 
Why legal counseling on HS Code issues?
 
For many products, tariff classification can be technically complex, confusing, and subject to multiple interpretations. Often several different HS Codes may seem applicable for one given product with different tariff rates. Moreover, though in theory all WCO members are required to use the same first 6 digits of HS Code (“HS-6”) to classify a commodity, in practice, for various reasons, (such as different interpretations to the relevant explanatory notes (for HS-4 and HS-6) issued by the customs authorities in different jurisdictions, or simply translation gap among different language versions of the harmonized tariff schedule or explanatory notes), the tariff classification in practice could still end up with different 6-digit HS Codes in China for the same product. However, proper tariff classification is required under PRC customs law as a part of importer/exporter’s declaring obligation. The HS Code violation could lead to costly delay in customs clearance, deposit requirement, possible administrative fines and even criminal penalties for smuggling. The correct tariff classification of goods is a key regulatory compliance component in importers/exporters trade practices.
 
The tariff classification indeed calls for a legal mind to do comprehensive and detailed analysis by applying the complex classification rules, such as the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, PRC Customs Import and Export Tariff Schedule, Explanatory Notes to Commodities and Headings in the PRC Customs Import and Export Tariff Schedule, Subheading Notes and Interpretations to Commodities and Headings in the PRC Customs Import and Export Tariff Schedule and as well as the administrative rulings and decisions on the commodity classification as announced by China Customs from time to time.
 
Given the potential severe legal consequences, and complex technical and legal nature of tariff clarification, for purposes of trade compliance and risk management, more and more corporate clients are turning to customs law firms to seek the HS Code counseling, defense and/or dispute resolution.
 
Why choose the Center?
 
With practical knowledge of products and integrated multidisciplinary approach, the Center can work with clients to analyze in detail the factual information of products (such as function, form and composition, and manufacturing processes), and use appropriate tools and tariff classification procedures to determine the tariff classification. As such, clients may minimize risk exposures to HS Code violations. This might also provide clients the opportunity to take advantage of preferential duty rates through international free trade agreements.
 
Moreover, the Center runs closely in conjunction with HaoLiWen Customs & Trade Practice Group. Once a likelihood of misclassification is detected by the Center, clients will be, upon request, provided with comprehensive risk assessment and effective legal defense strategies and techniques. As such, our clients could foresee and defuse or mitigate the possible legal consequences arising from the previous misclassifications. Our Customs & Trade Practice Group has over 10 years’ experience and expertise in representing or defending our clients in customs investigation, audit and other customs proceedings. We are also well versed in acting as a bridge over the communication gap between clients and Customs. Our relevant advisory services and dispute resolutions have been highly regarded by clients.
 
Moreover, for a given product, when all the legal methods to seek a favorable reclassification are exhausted, we can also help clients to file at the relevant authorities for favored adjustments on the tariff rate or customs control/supervision measure under the given HS Code. The Center’s experts have substantial expertise and profound insights on this regard.
 
Therefore, with the Center, our clients will enjoy a personalized and integrated approach which is tailored to specific requirements of each client for purposes of the HS Code compliance. Most members of the Center are bilingual in terms of English and Chinese.
 
What types of services can the Center offer?
 
In conjunction with HaoLiWen Customs & Trade Practice Group, the Center advises our clients  on all aspects of customs classification related matters in China, including:

-Pre-classification or HS Code recommendation for imports/exports prior to the entry/exit

-Opine on the tariff classification of a given product with an official legal opinion

-Risk exposure assessment and defense strategy planning in connection with any possible misclassification

-HS Code compliance training session

-Representation in settling a classification dispute with the Customs at the import/export clearance

-Representation in a customs audit relating to the tariff classification

-Representation in the whole proceeding of customs administrative review for purposes of seeking reclassification, including filing a petition, all the relevant documentation, and presenting oral arguments and statement in front of the customs district office or even central office in Beijing

-Representation in the criminal proceedings to defend clients against a smuggling charge involving the tariff classification issue

-Filing and representing for favored adjustments on the tariff rates or import or export control/supervision measures for a particular product, whenever the relevant rates or measures seem not reasonable, the relevant provisions of the tariff code appear to have errors so that the relevant tariff classification for all the similar products is genetically mistaken, or such product is deemed urgently needed in the domestic market or beneficial to country’s welfare or planning.  
 
 
Should you need any consultation or assistance on this regard, please contact:
 
Parry Zhou    parryzh@haoliwen.com
Deming Zhao  zhaodeming@haoliwen.com
Mingming Dai  daimingming@haoliwen.com
Shu Han      shuhan@haoliwen.com