Trade Classification Systems

There are three standard classification systems for merchandise trade:

  1. Harmonized System (HS) of tariff nomenclature - An international classification system standardized between countries at a basic 6-digit level. Commodity classifications in the U.S. are given in two publications, one for exports and one for imports:
    Schedule B - Export statistics are initially collected and compiled in terms of approximately 8,000 commodity classifications in Schedule B, Statistical Classification of Domestic and Foreign Commodities Exported from the United States, a publication of the U.S. Census Bureau and based on the Harmonized System. Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated for Statistical Reporting Purposes - Import statistics are initially collected and compiled in terms of about 14,000 commodity classifications in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated for Statistical Reporting Purposes (HTSUSA) , a publication of the U.S. International Trade Commission and based on the Harmonized System.
  2. Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) - statistical classification of the commodities entering external trade designed to provide the commodity aggregates needed for purposes of economic analysis and to facilitate the international comparison of trade-by-commodity data.
  3. North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)- A consistent system for economic analysis across the three North American Free Trade Agreement partners: Canada, Mexico and the United States. NAICS is built on a production-oriented or supply-based conceptual framework in that establishments are grouped into industries according to similarity in the processes used to produce goods or services. NAICS is a 6-digit hierarchical coding system. The first two digits of the code designate the sector that represent general categories of economic activities, the third designates the sub-sector, the fourth digit designates the industry group, the fifth digit designates the NAICS industry, and the sixth digit designates the national industry.