Exploring Key Themes: Highlights from the 42nd Technical Committee on Rules of Origin (TCRO)

13 February 2024

The 42nd Technical Committee on Rules of Origin (TCRO) was successfully held from 7 to 9 February 2024, in an in-person format in Brussels, under the chairmanship of Ms. Sun Hwa Cho from the Korea Customs Service. The meeting gathered 167 registered participants attending both in person and online with only passive participation, including WCO Member delegates, representatives of intergovernmental organizations (WTO and UNCTAD), and the International Chamber of Commerce.

Ms. Gael Grooby, Acting Director of the Tariff and Trade Affairs Directorate, delivered the opening remarks, setting the tone for the discussions ahead. In her speech, she expressed gratitude for the significant attendance at the meeting and indicated that she was confident the participants would actively contribute to the exchange of experiences and information during the meeting.

The TCRO meeting deliberated on a diverse range of topics, sharing experiences and insights from members and highlighting the dynamic nature of rules of origin in international trade. Discussions covered significant subjects such as the digitisation of certificates of origin, the feasibility study on Origin Interconnectivity, cumulation, product-specific rules, the use of blockchain and other technologies for self-certification, and the performance measurement mechanism for customs. The World Trade Organization (WTO) delivered a comprehensive report on the Committee on Rules of Origin activities, offering valuable insights.

Additionally, the TCRO discussed, examined, and supported several ongoing WCO activities, including the Study on the Digitalization of Certificates of Origin (Summary Findings), Feasibility Study on the Interconnectivity Framework for Certificates of Origin, particularly on its Business Process Model (BPM) and dataset components, Study on Accumulation/Cumulation, and the work plan for the Study on Product-Specific Rules.

In addition to substantive discussions, the Secretariat provided updates on activities carried out in 2023, such as the 3rd WCO Global Origin Conference and technical assistance activities. The TCRO noted the support given by the WCO/JICA Joint Project (Master Trainer Programme for East and Southern Africa and for West and Central Africa), and the EU-WCO Rules of Origin Africa Programme. The Secretariat also presented the use of the WCO Trade Tools. Moreover, the draft guidelines for Specific Annex K to the Revised Kyoto Convention were presented and extensively discussed during the TCRO, reflecting a collaborative effort to refine and enhance these documents.

Furthermore, the TCRO discussed the progress of its existing Work Programme and endorsed updates to the TCRO Work Programme 2023-2025.

The 42nd TCRO meeting served as a platform for fruitful deliberations, collaborative efforts, and knowledge sharing, contributing to the advancement of rules of origin frameworks and facilitating smoother international trade practices.