MSMEs to benefit from ITC-WCO Rules of Origin Facilitator
(Geneva) – A new initiative that will enable micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to benefit from international trade opportunities was unveiled today by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the World Customs Organization (WCO). Developed to enable MSMEs to benefit from lower duties under free trade agreements, the ITC-WCO Rules of Origin Facilitator will also ensure that businesses in developing countries can take greater advantage of preferential trade arrangements.
Announcing the new tool, ITC Executive Director Arancha González, said: ‘This new Rules of Origin tool will improve transparency in global trade. It will generate more trading opportunities for MSMEs, and enhance the benefits offered by trade agreements through making trade rules more easily accessible through the new tool.’
During the launch of the ITC-WCO Rules of Origin Facilitator in Brussels, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya said: ‘WCO is pleased to team up with ITC for this new, joint initiative to increase transparency and knowledge in trade and make the subject of rules of origin more easily accessible for customs officers, companies, trade policymakers, and trade institutions’.
He added that ‘the WCO plays an important role in optimizing the use of rules of origin under trade agreements through its professional technical expertise and also with the use of effective tools such as the WCO Comparative Study on Preferential Rules of Origin’.
Available online at findrulesoforigin.org, the ITC-WCO Rules of Origin Facilitator contains information on trade agreements and applicable tariff rates at the detailed product level. The database includes the product-specific rules of origin as well as provisions on origin certification. Necessary documentation, such as certificates of origin, is also provided.
Currently, the initiative covers the destination markets of 85 countries including most of the developed economies. The online tool is comprehensive in its coverage providing information on all tradable goods, ranging from raw agricultural commodities to sophisticated machinery and electronics.
Global trade is governed by more than 400 regional trade agreements and preferential trade arrangements. The intention is for the database to cover all of these agreements. The availability of this information will allow MSMEs to reach new export markets and take advantage of available duty benefits in trade agreements. MSMEs will also be able to diversify their export markets by understanding if and how they qualify for tariff preferences across several markets simultaneously.
MSMEs have traditionally struggled to find reliable and easy-to-use information on available duty rates and applicable rules of origin. This ITC-WCO Rules of Origin database, is the first global searchable database on tariff benefits in trade agreements, with the corresponding rules of origin. This will help MSMEs to better take advantage of low or zero duty rates available under trade agreements and bridge the competitiveness gap with large firms. Providing vital market access information in an easy and quick way via a simple search significantly reduces information costs and allows MSMEs to identify and access trade opportunities.
Rules of origin have been identified as the most common source of constraints by MSMEs based on ITC business surveys, which have been conducted in more than 60 countries.
Note for the Editor
The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. For more information, visit www.intracen.org
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