Harmonization Work Programme

Role and Interaction of WTO and WCO

The international institutions carrying out the Programme are the WTO Committee on Rules of Origin (CRO) which reported to the WTO Council for Trade in Goods, and the WCO Technical Committee on Rules of Origin (TCRO) which was established with the support of the WCO to undertake the technical work. Membership in both Committees is limited to Members of the WTO. However, the TCRO admits as observers those WCO Members that are not WTO Members, as well as some international organizations including the WTO, OECD, UNCTAD, the UN Statistics Division, the UN Law of the Sea Convention Secretariat and the International Chamber of Commerce the World Business Organization (ICCWBO).

Work Completed by the WCO/TCRO

Since the official initiations of the Programme in July 1995, the TCRO has held a total of 18 formal sessions and 3 informal sessions. In May 1998, the WCO Secretariat issued the first edition of a Consolidated Text which contains the results of the technical review concerning origin determination criteria for each product, and opinions of participating countries.

Continuation of the Work by WTO/CRO

The CRO is expected to review the status of Harmonization Work Programme and recommend a deadline for its completion. In the course of the discussions, all CRO Members emphasized the importance of early establishment of the Harmonized Rules of Origin for facilitating international trade. They agreed to continue their substantive efforts towards finalising all outstanding issues as early as possible.

On-Going Responsibilities of the WCO/TCRO in therms of The Agreement

Under the Agreement on Rules of Origin, the TCRO is mandated to exercise permanent responsibilities on technical aspects relating to Non-Preferential Rules of Origin. In February 2000, during the 18th session, it was decided that the following permanent responsibilities would be taken up by the TCRO:

  • Providing technical assistance activities and training seminars on the Harmonized Rules of Origin to Members.
  • Developing practice manuals or guides to the Harmonized Rules of Origin.
  • Preparing and compiling the Periodic Report and Annual Review.
  • Undertaking a systematic study of certification and verification processes to facilitate future implementation of Harmonized Rules of Origin.
  • Revising the Rules of Origin as a result of the Harmonized System, technological developments, and any disharmony occurring during the implementation of the Harmonized Rules of Origin.