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Preferential rules of origin

WCO Members and the business community in all WCO regions are faced with a growing number of preferential trade arrangements, often with widely different rules which can be both very complex and difficult to apply. In addition, Customs administrations are required to engage in negotiations in the establishment of new preferential arrangements, often in conjunction with other government services. Furthermore, the management and application of the rules of origin are often the sole responsibility of Customs administrations.

Economic operators are increasingly faced with having to understand and apply different rules under the various schemes. It is often the responsibility of Customs services to provide the support and assistance to ensure that the different preferential arrangements are understood and fully utilized by the business community.

The WCO has launched an initiative in the field of preferential rules of origin to ensure that Customs administrations have available all the necessary tools and modern techniques to ensure that the rules are developed, clearly understood and implemented in a manner that promotes legitimate preferential trade while, at the same time, preventing abuse of the system.

The actions undertaken under the Action Plan on preferential origin include:

  • the establishment of a database of preferential arrangements
  • the study of existing preferential arrangements
  • the organisation of training and seminars
  • the publication of documents that aim to assist Members in enhancing their capacity to verify preferential origin (see box below - for Members only).