As part of the initiative to obtain eligibility for duty-free treatment of lauan under the Generalized System of Preference (GSP), the RV Industry Association requested the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) create a new statistical breakout for tropical hardwood plywood less than 3.6mm in thickness, but greater than 1.2 m (3.9 feet) in width and 2.2 m (7.2 feet) in length. RV News and Insights reported that using this new classification will allow more accurate tracking of the amount of plywood being brought into the U.S. in the size panels that the RV industry is using and make it easier to argue for its inclusion in the GSP program.

This new classification was approved and took effect on July 1. The new classification should be used by importers and suppliers who are bringing in the thinner plywood panels from Indonesia.

Previously, all tropical plywood imports less than 6mm in thickness were covered by a single Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) classification. The new breakout separates imports less than 3.6mm from those that are thicker.

The current HTS category now reads as follows:

  • 4412.31.41 With at least one outer ply of the following tropical woods: Dark Red Meranti, Light Red Meranti, White Lauan, Sipo, Limba, Okoumé, Obeche, Acajou d’Afrique, Sapelli, Virola, Mahogany, Palissandre de Para, Palissandre de Rio, or Palissandre de Rose.
  • 4412.31.41.50: Plywood with at least one outer ply of the following tropical woods: Dark Red Meranti, Light Red Meranti, White Lauan, Sipo, Limba, Okoumé, Obeche, Acajou d’Afrique, Sapelli, Virola, Mahogany, Palissandre de Para, Palissandre de Rio, or Palissandre de Rose, not surface covered; panels not exceeding 3.6 mm in thickness, not exceeding 1.2 m in width and 2.2 m in length
  • 4412.31.41.60 Not surface covered

New line:

  • 4412.31.41.55 Plywood with at least one outer ply of special tropical wood of the following tropical woods: Dark Red Meranti, Light Red Meranti, White Lauan, Sipo, Limba, Okoumé, Obeche, Acajou d’Afrique, Sapelli, Virola, Mahogany, Palissandre de Para, Palissandre de Rio, or Palissandre de Rose, not surface covered: panels not exceeding 3.6 mm in thickness, greater than 1.2 m in width and 2.2 m in length

This distinction was needed because plywood with a thickness less than 3.6mm is used primarily in the manufacture of RVs. The RV industry uses thin plywood to minimize weight, due to vehicle fuel economy regulations and consumer preference. Plywood in the 3.7mm to 6mm range is used in other sectors, including residential construction and other building applications as well as in sets for film, television, and theater productions. There is limited to no overlap between these two segments, as the requirements for each sector require distinct plywood thickness.

This new level of detail within the HTS permits users to analyze price and volume trends in imports for distinct segments of the market.