October 9, 2015


Already more than a month ago since I started at Boon Edam. While in the beginning time seemed to pass way too slow, it seems I’ve finally found a better rhythm.  My internship is mainly related to international trade; transport documents/routes and HS codes. 

Today I spent the afternoon looking at an excel-file listing the company’s products. It contains the item numbers, product names with a short description, the HS codes and prices. In this long list of more than 10,500 product parts I was looking for any possible wrong classifications. Sounds like a bit of a dull task perhaps but at least there was a bit of humour in it as well.

To explain a little, goods can be classified according to the Harmonized System in codes that are equal in over 200 countries and as such can serve as a universal language. The code is used in international trade for determining the import duties, in trade statistics, and for monitoring controlled goods for example.

I had heard about it once before in Trade Logistics and Documentation class before, the import duties for a ‘prosthetic leg’ would for example be 30%, but for a ‘prosthetic leg of *material* with *special function*’ it may be 0%. Therefore it is very important to use the right codes as it is about large amounts of money and fines for wrong use of the codes can be imposed up to 3 years after date.

So when checking the list there were all kinds of product parts such as frames/plates of specific materials, bolts, engines, or lights. However it quickly showed that the list wasn’t too accurate: many products of stainless steel were for example classified in a category that was about aluminum products, and the other way around. Other more strange classifications were of work clothing that was categorized to be ‘hand-knitted’, product parts in the category of a.o. ‘baby diapers’ and tape as ‘art object, antiquity'. Overall thus fair to say there were quite some things wrong with the list. 

Last Tuesday I went to one of the other locations of the company (there are about 5, close to the main building) to see the manufacturing of speedgates. My task will be to find out how they can be split up in modules to look for the best way of shipping them (with the corresponding HS codes, duties etc). Next Tuesday I’ll go again to take some more notes.

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