The heads of two European trade organisations, EuroCommerce and amfori, have warned that unclear and complex ‘rules of origin’ are making it difficult for European companies - especially small and medium sized entities - to take advantage of global trading opportunities. Rules of origin are rules which determine the national origin of a product for the purposes of international trade. Those rules differ from country to country, and under the terms of the various bilateral trade agreements that the EU has entered in recent years.
Speaking yesterday at a conference in Brussels, Christian Verschueren, director general of EuroCommerce, said: “Even the most beneficial trade agreements have little effect if the rules of origin are too complicated. There is definitely something wrong when small companies, but also some big enterprises prefer to pay import duties rather than dealing with a set of different rules of origin. There is an urgent need for a modernised system which recognises that we are operating in a world of global supply chains, where complex products are made up of parts from all over the world.” Amfori president Christian Ewert echoed this, saying: “amfori and EuroCommerce have been saying for many years that origin rules need to be simplified, harmonised – ideally at the global level – and regularly updated, so that they properly reflect modern global value chains.
This should include wider rules for cumulation and less stringent rules for granting preferential origin. 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.” (AH)