In view of the country of origin and application of tariffs as between countries, tariffs can be classified into: (i) single-column tariff, (ii) multiple-column tariffs and (iii) traditional tariffs.
Irrespective of the origin of imports of goods, when only one rate of tariff duty is imposed by law on all the goods, it is referred to as a single column tariff. It is a very simple system which can be easily designed and administered.
In multiple column tariffs, two or more duties are levied by law on each class of commodity. India, for instance, has adopted the double-column tariff policy since the acceptance of the Commonwealth Preference Agreement in 1932. Under this scheme, imports from the Commonwealth countries bear lower duties than from other countries.
Under a traditional or conventional tariff, a basic duty is determined by law for each class of commodity, with the proviso that each such duty may be reduced reciprocally under international treaties. If under international negotiations tariffs are widely generalised, the traditional tariffs are reduced to a single column tariff.