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APEC needs ‘business-friendly’ trade rules on origin of materials, products

Update: August, 22/2017 - 21:00
21 APEC-member economies discuss trade challenges and opportunities posed by WTO’s Rules of Origin (ROO) at a Public-Private Dialogue held on Tuesday within the framework of the APEC Senior Officials Meeting now being held in HCM City. VNS Photo Bồ Xuân Hiệp
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — Ensuring that rules of origin (ROO) are kept “simple and more business-friendly” will enhance trade among APEC economies, experts said at a workshop held in HCM City on Tuesday.

Private sector representatives, academics and government officials from 21 APEC-member economies took part in a public-private dialogue to discuss challenges and opportunities posed by the ROO.

The chair of the APEC Committee on Trade and Investment, Marie Sherylyn D. Aquia, said the dialogue provided a platform for APEC customs officials and ROO negotiators to better understand potential challenges faced by businesses in conforming to the rules.

“We have worked to maximise trade creation and minimise trade distortion,” she said.  

Rules of Origin are laws and regulations used in international trade to define where a product was made. They are important when implementing trade policy tools such as anti-dumping and countervailing duties, and in Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs) and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).

However, globalisation of the supply chain has made it increasingly difficult to determine where a product originally comes from, since raw materials and parts used to make finished goods are drawn from all over the world. 

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement on ROO aims to harmonise the rules over the long-term (except for ROO related to the granting of tariff preferences) and ensure that such rules do not create unnecessary trade impediments.

Despite challenges, Aquia said that ROO offered opportunities to advance trade facilitation, including innovative product-specific rules that reflect modern value chains.

While much work has been done by APEC in the past on ROO, in areas such as self-certification, amid the backdrop of changing business realities as well as the rise of modern global supply chains, more needs to be done to keep the pace in advancing work on ROO, according to Aquia. 

Participants from Singapore, which proposed the public-private dialogue project, said they hoped the meeting would be the first in a series of workshops and dialogues on implementing ROO as set out in APEC’s Lima Declaration, which called upon developed economies to eliminate trade barriers for developing economies so the latter could increase exports. 

In 2009, APEC senior officials identified ROO as a priority and tasked the Committee of Trade and Investment and its various sub-fora to look into making ROO more business-friendly.

APEC has since started work in several areas, including on self-certification, through a pathfinder project as well as waivers of Certificates of Origin for small-value shipments.

Recently, under the Boracay Action Agenda endorsed in 2015, economies were encouraged to consider a commercially significant threshold value for waiver of Certificates of Origin, as well as adoption of a self-certification system for respective economies’ Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs) or Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). — VNS



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