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Hong Kong | United States Trade Representative

  • The top import categories (2-digit HS) in 2018 were: special other (returns) ($2.4 billion), electrical machinery ($980 million), precious metal and stone (diamonds) ($916 million), machinery ($321 million), and plastics ($166 million).

What does US mean by

  1. 2-digit HS?

  2. special other (returns)?

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2-digit HS refers to the first two digits of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding Systems, an international classification system for traded goods, primarily so that nations can streamline customs. It's a six digit coding system where the first two digits reflect the general category of the transported good.

Special other (returns) isn't specifically listed in the version of the coding system I saw, but probably refers to "Special transactions and commodities not classified according to kind", and I suspect it is referring to goods that are shipped back (returned) for any of a number of reasons: damaged, defective, unsold, etc. Such items would need their own category because they are 'not-for-sale' transports that would be subject to different taxes or duties.

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