Legal Documents

Agreement on rules of origin

The agreement aims at long-term harmonization of rules of origin, other than rules of origin relating to the granting of tariff preferences, and to ensure that such rules do not themselves create unnecessary obstacles to trade.

The agreement aims at long-term harmonization of rules of origin, other than rules of origin relating to the granting of tariff preferences, and to ensure that such rules do not themselves create unnecessary obstacles to trade.

The agreement sets up a harmonization programme, to be initiated as soon as possible after the completion of the Uruguay Round and to be completed within three years of initiation. It would be based upon a set of principles, including making rules of origin objective, understandable and predictable. The work would be conducted by a Committee on Rules of Origin (CRO) in the WTO and a technical committee (TCRO) under the auspices of the Customs Cooperation Council in Brussels.

Much work was done in the CRO and the TCRO and substantial progress has been achieved in the three years foreseen in the Agreement for the completion of the work. However, due to the complexity of the issues the HWP could not be finalized within the foreseen deadline. The CRO continued its work in 2000. In December 2000, the General Council Special Session agreed to set, as the new deadline for completion of the remainder of the work, the Fourth Session of the Ministerial Conference, or at the latest the end of 2001. The negotiating texts are contained in documents G/RO/41 and G/RO/45.

Until the completion of the harmonization programme, contracting parties would be expected to ensure that their rules of origin are transparent; that they do not have restricting, distorting or disruptive effects on international trade; that they are administered in a consistent, uniform, impartial and reasonable manner, and that they are based on a positive standard (in other words, they should state what does confer origin rather than what does not).

An annex to the agreement sets out a “common declaration” with respect to the operation of rules of origin on goods which qualify for preferential treatment.

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