On 02 February the World Customs Organization (WCO) hosted the 39th Session of the Technical Committee on Rules of Origin (TCRO) virtually which was attended by more than 100 participants from around the world. This included observers from the World Trade Organization (WTO), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
The meeting was updated on intersessional developments in relation to the WCO Action Plan on Preferential Rules of Origin, the Revenue Package, capacity building, and the practical application of rules of origin, including implementation of Advance Ruling systems. Particular coverage of the progress of the work under the Comprehensive Review of RKC on Specific Annex K was given.
In addition, the availability of virtual capacity building was emphasised and Members reminded that they could request targeted training in all rules of origin related matters. The Secretariat will continue to provide technical assistance at national, regional and global levels through the pandemic.
The representative of the WTO Secretariat briefed the Technical Committee on the activities of the CRO and the developments which had taken place at the WTO with respect to rules of origin. He noted that WTO Members continued to hold discussions in two main areas, the preferential rules of origin in non-reciprocal trade preferences for Least Developed Countries (LDCs); and the Non-preferential rules of origin, in particular notifications and transparency. During this time, there was the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the WTO Agreement on RoO.
The Secretariat drew the Technical Committee’s attention to the fact that faced with the Covid-19 pandemic, the WCO has initiated many actions for the Members in a variety of fields, with a view to improving their resilience. Colombia and India gave presentations to share their best practices regarding rules of Origin facilitation measures implemented under the COVID‑19 pandemic situation.
In her closing remarks, the Deputy Director of the Tariff and Trade Affairs Directorate reminded the delegates that the WCO will host its Second Global Origin Conference, from 10 to 12 March in a virtual format, with the funding from Korea Customs Service. She invited and encouraged Members to take part in this flagship event to make it a resounding success in terms of participation, high-level speakers and the richness of the themes and debates at a global level as well as in the interactions between Customs, private sector and academia.
Story by: Riaan de Lange