Rules of Origin under EPAs: Key Issues and New Directions
Rules of origin form a critical component of any trade agreement or preferential trade area, and thus an important role in the implementation of trade policy. They are used as a tool for determining the ‘economic nationality’ of a product, rather than merely deeming the last geographic location from which a product is shipped as its nationality. As a result, the terms and conditions contained in ROO are some of the most important determinants of market access.
This paper provides a conceptual outline of rules of origin and the core methodologies that are used in the majority of origin regimes, with a special focus on the rules in the ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement. This is followed by an overview of recent initiatives by the European Commission to revise the conceptual basis used by it in the determination of origin, beginning with the Green Paper of 2003 and ending with the Commission’s April 2004 Working Paper where it provides supporting arguments for its preferred choice of methodological basis for determining origin. The paper further identifies some of the key rules of origin related issues with reference to recent EC proposals and developments, as well as a number of specific areas of interest from the perspective of ACP countries both under the current Cotonou regime as well as proposed Economic Partnership Agreements.
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