July 08, 2021
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Rules of Origin: Highlights of the second WCO Conference

Photo from WCO News

The WCO Secretariat organized the second edition of its Global Origin Conference, held from 10 to 12 March 2021, with the objective of stimulating the exchange of knowledge on the management and implementation of rules of origin, both from a Customs and a trade operator perspective. Funded by the Korea Customs Service, the event was held online. Below are some of the key points made by the speakers.

Preferential treatment can be a game-changer for regional economic integration as long as all the actors involved have access to the right information, knowledge of the rules, and administrative and management capacities

Several Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) were discussed, starting with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Annex 2 to the Agreement, which deals with rules of origin, is almost complete. Although some key requirements and Product Specific Rules are still under negotiation, trading under agreed rules of origin began on 1 January 2021.

For manufacturers, for those involved in trading goods and for governments to benefit from this Agreement (or any FTA), a sound knowledge of the rules of origin is needed, alongside information on the sourcing of the goods and manufacturing process, and management and administrative capacities (including access to efficient IT systems).

Putting to one side the difficulties generated by a lack of clarity in trade agreement provisions relating to rules of origin, there are other factors which can explain why preferential treatment is not utilized, including:

  • Information burden: distributors of goods generally do not have the needed information.
  • Sourcing burden: there will be higher costs to produce an originating good.
  • Compliance burden: paperwork increases transaction costs.
  • Compliance risk: if an importer is not sure whether a good is originating, the importer will not take the risk.

One speaker said that it was necessary to “leverage technology”, especially to ensure traceability of materials combined with origin documentation. Training was also seen as crucial: “Training all exporting SMEs will be difficult but what can be done is to focus on chambers of commerce, export promotion agencies, and certifying entities.”

Read full article

https://mag.wcoomd.org/magazine/wco-news-95-june-2021/second-wco-conference-on-origin/

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