Small and medium enterprises (SME) can now refer to a new free searchable database on rules of origin requirements and free trade agreements (FTA) to grow their exports by helping them reduce customs duties and make their products more affordable, the World Trade Organization (WTO) announced.
“Rules of Origin Facilitator is the first comprehensive global online resource on tariffs, trade agreements and rules of origin designed with SME in mind,” said the WTO.
“The tool enables you in a few clicks to find out import duties in foreign markets applicable to your product, available duty savings, detailed rules of origin, and certification procedures.”
Rules of origin are the criteria used to define where a product was made and important for implementing other trade policy measures.
“Origin can be understood as the economic nationality of the good. All internationally traded goods are required to have an origin when they are declared to customs at the point of import,” said WTO.
A joint initiative by the WTO, International Trade Centre and World Customs Organization, the facilitator (https://findrulesoforigin.org/) will enable firms to take fuller advantages of benefits under FTAs by helping them comply with product rules of origin requirements.
Through the facilitator, SME can increase trade by taking advantage of global trade opportunities in the form of low duty rates under trade agreements. The tool can also be used by policymakers, trade negotiators, economists as well as any other users.
Unveiled on 17 October, the facilitator provides free access to databases on trade agreements, tariff schedules, rules of origin, legal trade documentation such as certificates of origin, and contacts of national trade institutions.
Through a simple search function, a user can find and enter a commodity code, the countries of export and the countries of destination and “immediately obtain vital information about the available trade agreements, tariff benefits and product specific rules of origin as well as other conditions and required documents,” WTO said.
Because it was created with SMEs in mind, the Rules of Origin Facilitator is intuitive to use and business-friendly, it added.
“Each origin provision is linked to a bespoke glossary allowing users to familiarize themselves with the purpose of the provision and practical examples of its application. A number of additional supporting resources are also available.”
WTO added: “The ability to compare origin provisions displayed in a standardized way enables SME to conduct comprehensive market research without the need to search and read through hundreds of pages of complicated legal texts to find the applicable rules.”