Speaking at a conference organised yesterday (6 September) by amfori and EuroCommerce on rules of origin, the heads of both associations warned that, unless rules of origin for products were improved, they would continue to discourage European companies, particularly small ones, to take advantage of hard-won concessions in trade agreements.
Rules of origin determine the “nationality” of a product. To benefit from global value chains, companies need clear rules, but the complexity of rules of origin – preferential and non-preferential – continues to discourage trade, in particular for SMEs. The often very different rules in each of the many bilateral trade agreements signed in recent years adds to what is already a confusing picture.
amfori President, Christian Ewert, said, both organisations have been for many years, said origin rules need to be simplified - ideally at a global level - and regularly updated, so that they properly reflect mofern global value chains.“This should include wider rules for cumulation and less stringent rules for granting preferential origin.", he added. "Without these improvements there is a definite risk that the benefits of trade agreements will continue to be only partially adopted and even a risk to the future of new trade agreements entirely.”
These problems, including those connected to cumulation, which should allow production across more than one country, mean that companies will only partially be able to take up the benefits of trade agreements. Meanwhile, on top of these difficulties, under the recently-adopted Registered Exporters System (REX), that replaces the certificate of origin Form A, importers now run the risk of being held liable for any incorrect information provided by the exporter on the origin of a product.
"This approach should be revisited to find a more balanced set of rules on an importer’s burden of proof when dealing with customs authorities in the EU", they added.