Technical Committee on Rules of Origin (TCRO)

Terms of Reference for the Technical Committee on Rules of Origin (TCRO)

Confirmed by the Council - June 2003

Updated - June 2005

Established : 1995

Duration : Unspecified

1. Mandate

The Technical Committee on Rules of Origin (Technical Committee or TCRO) was established by the WTO Agreement on Rules of Origin (Origin Agreement), Article 4.2 (Institutions). The Technical Committee is a WTO body, but it has operated under the auspices of the WCO as provided for under Article 4.2 of the Origin Agreement. Therefore, the WCO Council exercises its supervision over the Technical Committee with regard to administrative matters only.

When the TCRO was established, its two major mandates were to : (i) undertake the technical exercise of the Work Programme for harmonizing non-preferential rules of origin (HWP in short, as described in Articles 9.1 and 9.2 of the Origin Agreement); and (ii) assume its permanent responsibilities (as described in Articles 4.1 and 4.2 (Institutions), Article 6.3 (Review) and Annex I of the Origin Agreement).

2. Membership

Each WTO Member has the right to be represented on the Technical Committee. Each Member may nominate one delegate and one or more alternates to be its representative(s) on the Technical Committee. Representatives of members of the Technical Committee may be assisted by advisers at meetings of the Technical Committee. The WTO Secretariat may also attend such meetings with observer status (Origin Agreement, Annex I, paragraph 4).

Members of the WCO that are not Members of the WTO may be represented at meetings of the Technical Committee by one delegate and one or more alternates. Such representatives attend meetings of the Technical Committee as observers (Annex I, paragraph 5).

Subject to the approval of the Chairperson of the Technical Committee, the Secretary General of the WCO may invite representatives of governments which are neither Members of the WTO nor Members of the WCO and representatives of international governmental and trade organizations to attend meetings of the Technical Committee as observers (Annex I, paragraph 6).

Such representatives attend meetings of the Technical Committee as observers with the right to take part in the discussions but not to take part in decision-making (Rules of Procedure, Rule 4, 2nd paragraph).

Nominations of delegates, alternates and advisers to meetings of the Technical Committee are made to the Secretary General (Annex I, paragraph 7).
Delegations and alternates continue to hold their positions until such time as the Secretary General is notified of the termination of their appointment (Rules of Procedure, Rule 5, 2nd paragraph).

3. Purpose and Scope

The purpose of the Technical Committee is as follows :

(1) Re Harmonization Work Programme

  • The TCRO completed this technical exercise in 1999 and has been awaiting further requests from the WTO Committee on Rules of Origin (Committee or CRO). These requests could include assisting the work of the CRO in the final stages of the HWP, e.g., an overall coherence review;
  • In the meantime, in order to ensure the smooth implementation of the Harmonized Non-Preferential Rules of Origin in the future, the Technical Committee has informally conducted a technical rectification exercise to align the draft rules of origin (based on HS 1996) on the 2002 edition of the Harmonized System.

(2) Re permanent responsibilities of the TCRO

  • To examine specific technical problems arising in the day-to-day administration of the rules of origin of Members and to give advisory opinions on appropriate solutions based upon the facts presented (Annex I, paragraph 1(a));
  • To furnish information and advice on any matters concerning the origin determination of goods as may be requested by any Member or the Committee (Annex I, paragraph 1(b));
  • To prepare and circulate Periodic Reports on the technical aspects of the operation and status of this Agreement (Annex I, paragraph 1(c));
  • To review annually the technical aspects of the implementation and operation of Parts II and III (Annex I, paragraph 1(d));
  • To exercise such other responsibilities as the Committee may request of it (Annex I, paragraph 2);
  • To attempt to conclude its work on specific matters, especially those referred to it by Members or the Committee, in a reasonably short period of time (Annex I, paragraph 3); and
  • In co-operation with the Committee, to set up a mechanism to consider and propose amendments to the results of the HWP, taking into account the objectives and principles set out in Article 9 of the Origin Agreement. This includes instances where the rules need to be made more operational or need to be updated to take into account new production processes as affected by any technological change. In this respect, the Technical Committee, at its 20th Session, sent a proposal to the CRO in the form of a document entitled “Proposed Mechanism for the Submission of the Views of the TCRO to the CRO for Amendments to the Harmonized Non-Preferential Rules of Origin”.

4. Key Deliverables

The Technical Committee will :

  • prepare draft amendment texts of the Harmonized Non-Preferential Rules of Origin in the course of the technical rectification exercise;
  • provide information and advisory opinions on any matters, including appropriate solutions, concerning the origin determination of goods (Annex I, paragraphs 1(a)
    and (b));
  • prepare Periodic Reports on the technical aspects of the operation and status of this Agreement (Annex I, paragraph 1(c));
  • prepare Annual Reviews on the technical aspects of the implementation and operation of Parts II and III (Annex I, paragraph 1(d)); and
  • forward a report to the WCO Council on its work.

5. Means of Operation

The Technical Committee may :

  • examine specific technical problems arising in the day-to-day administration of the rules of origin of Members (Annex I, paragraph 1(a));
  • in accordance with WCO Council guidelines, establish such Sub-Committees or Working Parties as it considers necessary, and elect from among the representatives of its members a Chairperson for each such Sub-Committee or Working Party. All the proposals of such Sub-Committees or Working Parties shall be submitted to the Technical Committee for decision (Rules of Procedure, Rule 17);
  • where appropriate, request information and advice from the Committee on matters related to this Agreement. The Technical Committee may also request such other work from the Committee as it considers appropriate for the furtherance of the above-mentioned objectives of the Agreement (Article 4.2);
  • co-operate, promote joint projects, or share information and experiences with relevant WCO working bodies and international governmental and trade organizations related to the matters within its competence.

6. Resources Required

The Technical Committee meets as necessary, but not less than once a year (Annex I, paragraph 8). Meetings of the Technical Committee are normally held at WCO Headquarters (Rules of Procedure, Rule 9).

The WCO Secretariat is responsible for :

(a) preparation of each meeting, including :

  • administrative preparation;
  • informing all members and observers at least 30 days in advance, except in urgent cases, of the opening date and duration of each session of the Technical Committee (Rules of Procedure, Rule 8);
  • including items in the Agenda at least 60 days before the session opens (Rules of Procedure, Rule 10);
  • preparing working documents and non-papers, where necessary.

(b) the meeting itself, including :

  • assisting the Chairperson;
  • presenting reports and proposals;
  • facilitating the course of the meeting;
  • taking note of discussions;
  • preparing a draft Report.

(c) follow-up to the meeting, including :

  • preparing the final Report and distributing it to members of the Technical Committee.