This policy brief identifies gaps and challenges in the World Custom Organization’s Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) that are relevant to efforts to tackle plastic pollution. It then puts forward options for amending the HS that would facilitate monitoring and regulating trade flows across the life cycle of plastics. Drawing from the wide range of potential HS amendment options identified, the authors recommend a subset of options that could be pursued in the current 2022-2027 HS amendment cycle.
The policy brief—and the options identified for HS amendments—builds on joint research by UNCTAD and the Geneva Graduate Institute on trade flows across the life cycle of plastics. It aims to support dialogue on how international cooperation on trade policies could support efforts to tackle plastic pollution, including through negotiations for a new international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, implementation of the Basel Convention “plastic waste amendments”, and the WTO Dialogue on Plastics Pollution.