Bringing together an unprecedented number of experts, users and researchers in the field of Origin, the World Customs Organization (WCO) successfully held the Second Global Origin Conference virtually from 10 to 12 March 2021. This event was organized with the financial support of the Korean Customs Cooperation Fund (CCF-Korea).
With over 1,300 registered participants from around the globe, and 27 speakers from Customs administrations, international organizations, the private sector and academia, the Conference offered a good opportunity to hear and discuss a wide range of viewpoints and experiences on the topic of Origin.
Participants and speakers actively joined the discussions to advance understanding of the current situation with respect to Rules of Origin (RoO) and related challenges. They also exchanged views on what could be done to further facilitate the use of RoO so as to support economic development and trade, while still ensuring the correct application of preferential and non-preferential treatments to ensure the fulfilment of underlying policy objectives.
The current relevance of regional integration as a driving force of global supply chain and the increased importance of RoO was emphasized from the outset of the Conference by Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO).
“Trade agreements and regional integration, encompassing mega-regional agreements and arrangements such as those establishing African and Asian-Pacific free trade areas, are currently being negotiated and implemented and contain key provisions on rules and related procedures pertaining to the application of RoO”, said the WCO Secretary General.
“A new online platform (www.wcotradetools.org), with a user-centric interface and top functionalities, has recently been launched by the WCO to support international trade actors in determining Customs tariffs and taxes, providing a single point of access to the Harmonized System (HS) database, Origin database, and Valuation database”, the Secretary General added.
During this event, diverse aspects of RoO were covered such as regional integration and its impact on the global economy; the impact of non-preferential RoO; the RoO update to reflect the latest edition of the HS; the work on the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) and other WCO tools in which origin matters arise; the implications of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Nairobi Decision on preferential RoO for the Least Developed Countries (LDC); and the future outlook as regards RoO.
Through the sessions, participants gained a deep understanding of the following topics: challenges faced by trade professionals when seeking to apply RoO ; current progress and future actions in implementing preferential RoO; development of international guidelines and standards related to implementing RoO, especially through the RKC Review process; and latest efforts by Member administrations and relevant stakeholders to address the different issues.
In his closing remarks, Mr. Ricardo Treviño Chapa, WCO Deputy Secretary General, stated that “the various themes addressed through intensive and fruitful discussions demonstrate that Rules of Origin are now more topical than ever. They have become a prominent feature of today’s trading system, particularly in the context of the various regional trade agreements. Rules of Origin enable preferential agreements to be implemented, which in turn promotes the development of trade and encourages investment.”
The Deputy Secretary General brought the Conference to a close by thanking all the participants for their outstanding input. He assured them that the WCO would continue working on this topic in close collaboration with other international organizations including the WTO, as well as with the business community and academia.