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Reform approaches to the harmonisation of preferential rules of origin

by Dr. Pia Beaucamp

Rules of origin are an essential part of any free trade agreement. The so-called preferential rules of origin define the originating status of products of the parties to free trade agreements. They are decisive for determining the applicability of a free trade agreement and the associated favourable treatment. The design of these rules determining the origin of goods is specifically negotiated in each agreement. As a result, these negotiated provisions regularly differ from one another.

The present paper deals on the one hand with existing approaches under international law on the way to an approximation of the different rules of origin. On the other hand, it deals with the rules of origin of seven different free trade agreements - European, American and Chinese. The paper takes a closer look at these rules and compares them with each other. Finally, it suggests wording that can contribute to a constant harmonisation of preferential rules of origin.

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