WCO supported Bahamas Customs in improved application of Rules of Origin

15 May 2018

The World Customs Organization (WCO), within the framework of the newly signed agreement between the WCO and Bahamas Customs and Excise Department (BCED), organized a National Workshop on Rules of Origin for Bahamas Customs. This Workshop, conducted in Nassau from 7 to 11 May 2018, was attended by 21 officials as well as representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

The Bahamas is part of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) which has concluded Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and the EU. Within the framework of these agreements, there is a wide range of possibilities for cumulation with other partners, each with specific requirements in regard to rules of origin.

Topics discussed during the Workshop included the key concepts for proper origin determination, related operational and procedural issues, the establishment of an efficient origin management and provision of effective training and private sector outreach.

During the Workshop, the WCO facilitators presented the Revenue Package initiatives, including the Guidelines on Origin Certification, Preferential Origin Verification and Advance Rulings, which have been designed to assist WCO Members in bringing the provisions in Free Trade Agreements into smooth operation. The WCO Comparative Study on Preferential Rules of Origin and the Database of preferential trade agreements were also presented.

Participants discussed specific areas of concern, including the low level of knowledge and use of the FTAs and challenges linked to administrative cooperation. Discussions also emphasized the importance of verifying the originating status of goods, rather than merely checking the authenticity of the certificate of origin.

The knowledge and experience gained from the Workshop will assist the Administration in the correct application of the Free Trade Agreements and will lead to a reduction in the number of instances of rules of origin based disputes. This will help the Bahamas benefit from the regional economic integration, promote exports of originating products and ensure the correct application of preferential treatments for importations.