Roundtable on the Future of Rules of Origin and Utilization Rates
Bernard Hoekman | European University Institute, Italy
Stefano Inama | UNCTAD, Switzerland
Conference Room, Villa la Fonte, Via delle Fontanelle 18 – Florence
26 – 28 JUNE 2019
Rules of Origin (RoO) continue to be the subject of intense debate in international trade policy circles. To date, multilateral efforts by organisations such as the WTO, the WCO, and UNCTAD have failed to induce countries to agree to common disciplines on the use of RoO. The private sector frequently complains about the complexity of RoO, but industry has not been effective in pressing governments for reforms and to resume initiatives for regulating ROO at multilateral level.
Some progress has been made at the WTO Committee of the Rules of Origin, reflected in initiatives aimed at raising the level of transparency and improving RoO for LDCs. Such developments may provide scope for plurilateral initiatives on RoO among a group of WTO members in view of the next WTO Ministerial in 2020 and the opportunities provided by the revision of Annex K of the WCO Kyoto convention on Rules of Origin.
The EUI and UNCTAD are working together with the aim to provide a platform for experts, researchers, practitioners, government officials and the private sector to discuss developments in the area of RoO on an annual basis through policy roundtable meetings of experts hosted by the EUI. The goal is to share experiences, ongoing policy-relevant research on RoO and related administrative requirements, and research findings.
One goal of the forthcoming roundtable is to discuss the possible modalities to establish a knowledge platform on RoO. Participating experts will have the opportunity to share insights and comment on the draft of a new UNCTAD/WCO study on RoO. The roundtable will focus on key challenges relating to the implementation and reform of RoO, analytical tools to assess the effects of RoO, and recent research efforts to enhance transparency and assess the effects of RoO.
The roundtable will focus on recent initiative to improve the transparency of notifications on non-preferential RoO centered on adopting a common template against the background of the lack of consensus on the finalization of the Harmonization Work programme at the WTO after more than 20 years of negotiations. Can this initial step break the ice for further progress? What level of ambition could be envisaged? What can be done to ensure this initiative is successful and not an isolated step forward? The roundtable will also focus on how to draft product-specific RoO (PSRO). All trade agreements are accompanied by PSRO annexes, often more than one hundred pages long, resulting from years of complex negotiations. A methodology for drafting PSROs using an input-output approach and detailed trade data will be presented. Another subject that will be addressed is the utilisation of trade preferences. The latest research on RoO as a determinant of preference utilisation will be presented. A final topic of discussion will be the ongoing negotiations on certification of Rules of Origin at the WCO.