1. Trade, Development & Sustainability
  2. International Trade and Corporations
  3. Roadblocks to Development
  4. The Debt Crisis in Developing Countries
  5. Free Trade and the Environment
  6. Trade and National Boundaries
  7. A Case Study: the Bushmeat Crisis
  8. "Sundown on the Unions"
  9. What's Wrong with Fair Trade?
  10. A Peek at the US Tariff Schedule

A Peek at the US Tariff Schedule

The "Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States" is the full list of all the tariff rates that are applied to all goods imported from all the different countries in the world. Its size (181 pages in the 2003 version quoted here) indicates how far the United States is (despite its rhetoric) from a policy of free trade. Online resources exist to help merchants and other citizens decode all this, such as the United States International Trade Commission. The data they present there are complex. Here is an example.

The following text appears on page 7 of the "Harmonized Tariff Schedule". c) Products Eligible for Special Tariff Treatment. (i) Programs under which special tariff treatment may be provided, and the corresponding symbols for such programs as they are indicated in the "Special" subcolumn, are as follows:

Generalized System of PreferencesA, A* or A+
Automotive Products Trade ActB
Agreement on Trade in Civil AircraftC
North American Free Trade Agreement:
Goods of Canada, under
the terms of general note 12
to this schedule.
Goods of Mexico, under
the terms of general note 12
to this schedule
African Growth and Opportunity ActD
Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery ActE or E*
United States-Israel Free Trade AreaIL
Andean Trade Preference Act
or Andean Trade Promotion and
Drug Eradication Act
J, J* or J+
United States-Jordan Free Trade
Area Implementation Act
Agreement on Trade in
Pharmaceutical Products
Uruguay Round Concessions
on Intermediate Chemicals for Dyes
United States-Caribbean Basin
Trade Partnership Act

          (ii) Articles which are eligible for the special tariff treatment provided for in general notes 4 through 14 and which are subject to temporary modification under any provision of subchapters I, II and VII of chapter 99 shall be subject, for the period indicated in the "Effective Period" column in chapter 99, to rates of duty as follows:

          (A) if a rate of duty for which the article may be eligible is set forth in the "Special" subcolumn in chapter 99 followed by one or more symbols described above, such rate shall apply in lieu of the rate followed by the corresponding symbol(s) set forth for such article in the "Special" subcolumn in chapters 1 to 98; or

          (B) if "No change" appears in the "Special" subcolumn in chapter 99 and subdivision (c)(ii)(A) above does not apply, the rate of duty in the "General" subcolumn in chapter 99 or the applicable rate(s) of duty set forth in the "Special" subcolumn in chapters 1 to 98, whichever is lower, shall apply....