Harmonized System Commodity Code Revisions for Non-Timber Forest Products: Improving reliable trade data on NTFPs in Canada

Background

The current trade data collection system in Canada does not allow for the collection of accurate trade data about the NTFP sector; without this data, we cannot accurately capture the economic value of NTFPs in Canada.  As NTFPs increasingly become a focus for economic diversification and a means of sustaining rural livelihoods, the collection of these data are essential for enabling an evaluation of commercial development initiatives as well as improving our ability to make sound resource management decisions.

The overall goal of this project is to expand the national level Harmonized System (HS) of trade data to include specific NTFP species.  With over 200 commercially traded NTFPs in British Columbia alone, we clearly need to develop a logical and reasonable system to collect NTFP trade data and this project is an attempt to develop priorities and methods for revising NTFP HS codes.

Statistics Canada has a number of requirements that must be met for HS commodity codes to be revised. A draft strategy has been prepared by the Centre for Non-Timber Resources in conjunction with the BC Ministry of Forests and Range with support by Natural Resources Canada. The Harmonized System Commodity Code Revisions strategy is an outline of the steps necessary to facilitate these revisions and will serve as an action plan strategy for initiating changes. The strategy is the first phase of planning and, depending on financial support, will be followed by a second phase which will involve determining which NTFPs merit consideration for HS codes, and the preparation of a formal application to Statistics Canada hopefully to be submitted within the next fiscal year.

Methodology and Procedures

The project involves consultation with industry specialists, government, and NGOs to determine which NTFPs should be considered for HS commodity code revisions through an application to Statistics Canada. The CNTR (and contractors) along with the BC Ministry of Forest and Range staff, will work with other NTFP proponents from across Canada to develop the HS Commodity code application.

In addition to contacts that the CNTR has made across Canada within the NTFP sphere of researchers, government, industry and NGOs, it is hoped that the National NTFP Network will serve as a catalyst and a communications tool for determining the species of interest, sharing information and for gathering input for developing the HS commodity code change application. If funded, there will be discussion forums announced and facilitated through the network that will assist with preparing the application.

For further information about this project, and to comment on the proposed strategy, please contact Tom Hobby at the Centre for Non-Timber Resources, Royal Roads University at tom.hobby@royalroads.ca or 250-391-2600 x4465.

More information on the project will be posted on the National Network website over the next few weeks.