unctad.org | Helping Least Developed Countries prepare for WTO Committee on rules of origin
Helping Least Developed Countries prepare for WTO Committee on rules of origin
26 May 2015
A one-week executive training session on drafting and negotiating preferential rules of origin was organized by UNCTAD for delegates from selected least developed countries, in preparation for the meeting of the WTO Committee on rules of origin.

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Building upon its long-standing assistance to the least developed countries (LDC) group at the WTO in the context of the implementation of the WTO post-Bali LDC Package, UNCTAD in collaboration with the Academy of Global Governance, European University Institute (EUI) and the Government of the Netherlands, organized an Executive Training on Negotiating and Drafting Rules of Origin (RoO) in Florence, Italy from 20-24 April 2015.

The training served to enhanced the skills and knowledge of officials from LDCs - both Geneva and Capital-based - who then took the floor at the WTO Committee on rules of origin (CRO) meeting on 30 April 2015, in Geneva, to "urge movement on implementing Bali Decision".

This activity was particularly relevant given the RoO high level of sophistication that requires enhanced technical knowledge and capacities of trade negotiators. It also significantly enhanced the technical capacities in drafting of RoO and in measuring their trade restrictiveness.

Some of the issues addressed:
  • The current status of RoO in the multilateral trading system.
  • The Economics effects of RoO and their role in the value chains.
  • The technicalities of RoO.
  • The certification and administration of RoO.
  • The lessons learned from preference giving countries private sector and international organizations.

In addition, participants were offered the opportunity to share experiences, views and best practices with high quality international experts, preference-giving countries, representatives from the private sector and international organizations.

By covering many aspects of RoO (economic, legal, technical, negotiating strategy), the training provided LDCs officials and policy-makers with a set of legal and economic analytical tools to assist countries defend their interests and to participate actively in WTO negotiations.

An overview of the presentations
  • Mr. Stefano Inama, UNCTAD, introduced the context of the workshop and the possible way forward following the Bali Ministerial decision on preferential rules of origin. He provided technical and analytical tools to strengthen the understanding of the RoO concepts and explained the technical differences among RoO models, as well as the certification/administration models.

  • Prof. Bernard Hoekman, Robert Schuman Chair, Research Area Director "Global Economics", EUI, focused on the economic effects of RoO and the value chains.

  • Mr. Marti Darlan, WTO Secretariat, and Mrs. Mette Azzam, Technical Officer at the WCO presented the perspectives of both the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Custom Organization (WCO).

  • Mr. Teruo Ujiie, UNCTAD consultant, described the experience of Japan as preference giving country and the value of the WTO Decision.

  • Mr. Liu Ping, Senior Customs Representative of the Permanent Mission of China, shared the Chinese experience.

  • Mr. Gerrit Kornelis van't Spijker from the Customs Administration of the Netherlands explained the challenges of managing preferential imports at EU member state level.

  • Mr. Danile Cantù, Accounting Manager, and Mr. Matteo Illari, Supply Chain Manager at Bianchi, shared their experience of EU importer from GSP beneficiary countries.

  • Mr. Michael Zobin, Senior Customs and trade Advisor at Livingston International described the work of practitioner.

  • Mr. Jeremy T. Harris, from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) presented the Latin Amerian countries' perspective.

The participants highly appreciated the Executive Training (Overall Grade: 4.49/5) which translated into concrete actions.

At the CRO meeting held in Geneva on 30 April 2015, voices from LDCs were heard by the international community. Following the high level executive training in Florence, and through UNCTAD's ongoing support to LDCs in negotiating rules of origins and in drafting working documents, such as the submission of 17 April 2015 to the WTO by Bangladesh on behalf of the LDC Group, LDCs representatives took the floor at the CRO meeting to advocate their interests and "urge movement on implementing Bali Decision on preferential rules of origin", as reported by the WTO website.


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