12. The provisional agenda of the meeting was adopted as proposed by the Secretariat (Annex 1).
13. The meeting elected Mr Killmann as chairperson of the first session. Mr Wardle was elected chairperson of sessions 2 to 4. The Secretariat of the meeting was composed of Messrs Killmann and Vantomme and Ms Malgeri.
14. To facilitate the discussions during the meeting and familiarize participants with the topic, a comprehensive and well illustrated overview on bamboo and rattan resources and their many uses was presented by Mr Lobovikov. He informed the meeting on major bamboo and rattan characteristics and the technology of processing, and covered uses ranging from handicrafts, furniture and flooring to new uses such as bamboo-derived medicines. He further outlined constraints and listed current gaps and future priority needs for developing trade statistics on bamboo and rattan utilization. He illustrated the high socio-economic importance of bamboo and rattan products through their share in the global trade of forest products, estimated by INBAR to be between US$5 and 7 billion annually. (A summary of this presentation is given in Annex 4.1.)
15. Mr Wardle presented the report of the ITTO pre-project study ITTC (XXXIII)/11, Report on the establishment of a database of statistics on trade in bamboo and rattan, mentioned in paragraph 11. The study was commissioned by INBAR to cover trade and trends of bamboo and rattan products, to identify gaps and to formulate proposals on approaches to obtain regular information on resources, production and trade in bamboo and rattan. A copy of the study, which includes detailed tables on reported trade in bamboo and rattan products by main trading countries, was made available to the meeting. The ITTO report showed that very little international data had been assembled on resources or production, with the exception of data from China and Japan. Some international trade data are available from the UNSD in Comtrade, but data on bamboo and rattan are mostly aggregated with other products in the international product coding systems. The study recommended seeking modification of national and international trade coding to secure greater visibility of important bamboo and rattan products in trade statistics. (See Annex 4.2 for a summary of Mr Wardle's presentation and Annex 4.3 for the summary, conclusions and recommendations of the ITTO report.)
16. Mr Becker presented the paper International classifications. He first informed the meeting on the mandate and activities of the UNSD and on its programme on statistical classification carried out by the expert group on international economic and social classifications. He further presented the wide range of existing international classification systems with their different uses, and gave examples of the links between systems and the timetables for their next revisions. Among the list of international families of economic and social classification registered with the UNSD as their custodian, he underlined that, for the purpose of this meeting, the Central Product Classification (CPC) version
1.0, the International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC Rev. 3) and particularly the Standard International Trade Classification, Revision 3 (SITC Rev. 3) were the most relevant UN systems, in addition to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) developed by WCO.
17. Mr Becker informed participants that the purpose of the SITC Rev. 3 is to compile international trade statistics on all merchandise entering international trade, and to promote international comparability of international trade statistics. The commodity groupings of SITC reflect: (a) the materials used in production; (b) the processing stage; (c) market practices and uses of the products; (d) the importance of the commodities in terms of world trade; and (e) technological changes. In his presentation, Mr Becker underlined that the SITC Rev. 3 is based on and follows changes in the HS system. It is very stable because its structure does not change while corresponding links to other classification systems, such as the HS, are revised and updated as required. (A summary of this presentation is included in Annex 4.4.)
18. Mr Glemming informed the meeting about the structure, roles and procedures of WCO. Established in 1952 as the Customs Cooperation Council, WCO is an independent intergovernmental body with 159 member governments, headquartered in Brussels. Mr Glemming highlighted that the WCO developed the HS during the 1970s. It was implemented internationally in 1988 by the HS Convention and now counts 110 Contracting Parties (as of December 2002). The HS serves as a basis for customs tariffs and trade statistics in 186 countries and economies. More than 98 percent of world trade in transportable goods is now classified in terms of the HS. The HS is maintained by the Tariff and Trade Directorate through the HS Committee of Contracting Parties. The Nomenclature Subdirectorate acts as the Secretariat to oversee the HS review work.
19. The HS is a multipurpose commodity nomenclature classification system arranged in 21 sections of commodity sectors, 96 chapters and 1 244 headings with a total of 5 224 six-digit codes (2002 version), generally in order of degree of processing of goods and supported with well defined rules for classification. Important areas of application of the HS are for customs tariffs and trade statistics, determination of the origin of goods, World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements and schedules of tariff concessions, UN commodity classification systems (SITC, CPC), trade policy regulations (licensing, quotas, etc.), internal taxes (excise, VAT, etc.), freight tariffs, and trade monitoring of dangerous or illegal goods (ozone chemicals, hazardous wastes, narcotics, chemical weapons). Mr Glemming further informed the participants that the HS is periodically updated to reflect developments in technology and changes in trade patterns as well as other needs of HS users, and he described the updating procedures and timetable. A reviewed HS version is foreseen to take effect from 2007 onwards and submissions for amendments to the HS can be made by Contracting Parties to the Nomenclature Subcommittee meetings scheduled for September 2003 and April 2004. (A summary of this presentation is included in Annex 4.5.)
20. Mr Glemming presented a review of the present codes related to bamboo and rattan products in the HS (version: HS 2002 amendment). Presently, bamboo and rattan products are covered by only two specific codes under Chapter 14 dealing with vegetable plaiting materials of bamboo (144011.10) and of rattans (1401.20). Bamboo and rattan products are explicitly included with other materials under Chapter 94 dealing with furniture - 9401.50: Seats of cane, osier, bamboo or similar materials and 9403.80: Furniture of other materials, including cane, osier, bamboo or similar materials. He further suggested where eventual amendments to existing codes could be made to focus explicitly on bamboo and rattan but informed the meeting that the WCO requires at least a reported annual trading volume of more then US$50 million globally in order to accept such amendments. He mentioned that if a commodity is of particular importance to a given developing country, or important for social or environmental reasons, a lower global trade value could be accepted. (A summary of Mr Glemming's second presentation is included in Annex 4.6.)
21. Ms Hongman presented the structure and functioning of the Customs General Administration of China. She clarified that China Customs had adopted the SITC Rev. 2 trade classification from 1980 until 1991, but from 1992 onwards had switched to the HS of WCO. She informed the meeting on the methodologies used for data collection, verification and dissemination of trade statistics for bamboo and rattan products. Ms Hongman explained that China Customs are reporting their trade statistics under the HS at the 8-digit level, and therefore have already introduced specific trade codes (HS8) for several bamboo and rattan products, showing the importance of these products in Chinese trade. However, she underlined that these statistics are still underestimating the full value of bamboo and rattan products because as yet there are no specific codes for important products such as bamboo flooring and plywood. In view of the socio-economic importance of bamboo and rattan to China, Ms Hongman expressed the serious interest shown by China Customs to improve the visibility of these products in their trade statistics through more detailed product codes. She informed the meeting of their eagerness to collaborate with the WCO, INBAR and FAO in this regard. (A summary of this presentation is included in Annex 4.7.)
22. The session was closed with the presentation of a discussion draft prepared by INBAR/FAO on proposed amendments to HS. This note was based on a review of the above-mentioned ITTO report and on contributions received from customs agencies submitted prior to the meeting. This Secretariat note had been circulated to the participants well in advance of the meeting for their advance information and for preparation of comments as appropriate. The Secretariat note consisted of a table with 17 HS headings (at the 4-digit level) with their code description, and proposed amendments for inclusion of bamboo and rattan codes at the 6-digit level. In addition, for each heading, available trade values from China were added to provide an order of magnitude of their trade volume (see Annex 4.8).
23. Based on the above note, the presentations delivered at the meeting and the ensuing lengthy plenary discussions on each of the proposed amendments by HS heading, the major conclusions and recommendations for action were summarized in tabular form and approved in principle in the closing plenary session. After the session, however, further editing was provided by the FAO Secretariat, and the edited version was circulated after the meeting so as to have the full endorsement of the final text by all participants. The final summary table is given in Annex 5.