Tariff Tool Takes Edge Off Searching Through FTA Docs

June 27, 2011
By Michelle Kelley

Bob is a U.S. widget manufacturer looking to expand into new international markets. He sees great potential for selling his product in Peru. Being a savvy global business professional, Bob knows that the U.S. has a free trade agreement with Peru, which could eliminate some or all of his duty fees if his product qualifies.

So, Bob gets a copy of the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement and flips to the tariff schedule. He sighs heavily as he realizes that he must now sift through nearly a thousand pages to find his product’s tariff number.

Bob’s heavy sigh is no doubt echoed throughout the offices of thousands of U.S. import and export companies as they try (often in vain) to wrap their heads around the daunting legalese of the average free trade agreement.

Although these agreements were written to help facilitate trade, the reality is that the sheer length of some of these texts discourages many businesses from pursuing the benefits buried within.

That’s where the free tariff search tool on export.gov comes in handy. Here’s how it works.

  1. Select the importing or exporting option.
  2. Select the FTA country.
  3. Enter the HS code for your product. If you’re not sure of the code, click the link for U.S. Census Bureau’s Schedule B Search Engine to search for your code by keyword.
  4. Click the search button.
  5. A list of search results will appear, showing HS codes and product descriptions. Click “View Details” for the line that describes your product.
  6. On the details page you will see your product’s current tariff rate and any scheduled tariff reductions over the next ten years (typically culminating in tariff free status).

One added bonus of this tool is that it allows you to look up tariff rates for pending free trade agreements.

Use the tariff search tool
Video tutorial