Latest updates on special procedures from the Customs Expert Group
The Customs Expert Group assists the European Commission in the preparation of legislative proposals and policy initiatives on customs legislation. The Group meets regularly in different formats (‘Sections’) to discuss about the different topics linked to the Union Customs Code (UCC).
Concerning the documents to be presented as proof of origin other than a supplier’s declaration, the EU Commission clarified that the supplier’s declaration is not mandatory and that other information can be provided to show the EU origin of the goods. Regarding long term supplier’s declarations, the EU Commission explained that the current text of the UCC doesn’t allow for a declaration to cover past and future operations at the same time, and it also does not allow to cover a past period for more than one year in the past. The discussion is on-going whether to keep the current provisions or to amend them.
Regarding the REX system, the EU Commission clarified that the REX system will be used in the context of the agreements with Canada and Vietnam but only for EU exports to those countries, not from those countries to the EU. The EU Commission also confirmed that re-consignors of goods need to be registered too for making out the proofs of origin in case of re-consignment to Norway and Switzerland. The application of the REX system of the Overseas Countries and Territories of the EU should be postponed to 2020. Moreover, regarding the situation where the items listed on the commercial documents where the invoice declaration has to be stamped have different preferential origin, the EU Commission highlighted that the different origin of the goods should be mentioned next to the items of the commercial documents; there should be only one statement on origin mentioning that the origin is “as indicated next to each item of the commercial document”.
The Origin Section further discussed about the accession of Georgia to the Regional Convention on pan-Euro-Mediterranean preferential rules of origin (PEM Convention), which allows for the application of diagonal cumulation between the EU, EFTA States, Turkey, the countries which signed the Barcelona Declaration, the Western Balkans and the Faroe Islands. It is based on a network of Free Trade Agreements having identical origin protocols. Those origin protocols are being replaced by a reference to the PEM Convention.
Ukraine has requested to join the PEM Convention; if this would happen, it is possible that also the EU-Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement would be amended to include a reference to the PEM Convention for the list of rules on preferential origin.
Negotiations on the amendments of the list rules of the PEM Convention are still on-going; the EU Commission wishes to move these negotiations forward and to agree on the list rules for industrial products, on certain general provisions and on a new derogation procedure.
Furthermore, the EU Commission highlighted the fact that a new matrix on the possibilities of diagonal cumulation within the PEM zone has been published.
Moreover, the EU Commission has foreseen a measure on rules of origin to help Jordan’s economy in the context of the Syrian refugee crisis. The measure consists of an Annex added to the Protocol on Rules of Origin to the EU-Jordan Association agreement. This Annex bears list rules for industrial products of 52 Chapters of the Harmonised System. The list rules in this Annex may apply when certain conditions are met: the required working or processing activities are carried out in designated development zones and industrial areas; there is a proportion of Syrian refugees to be accepted by Jordan on its territory during the first years of entry into force of the Annex. The use of these list rules requires: a specific sentence to be mentioned on the proof of origin of the Jordanian exporters; an authorization to be obtained by the Jordanian exporters.
Furthermore, concerning the free trade agreement with Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama), the EU Commission noted that cumulation with Chile and Mexico for tuna in heading 1604 ended for Central America in 2016. However, Central America would like to have the possibility to use again cumulation for this product and is working on meeting the required conditions again. The problem on regional cumulation between Central America and Ecuador for tuna was solved by means of the derogation established by Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/1380.
In addition, with respect to the Economic and Partnership Agreements there is a discussion on the possibility for Cameroon to accept EUR.1 certificates and the EU Commission clarified that Cameroon should accept EUR.1 certificates without the label “-CMR” until the bilateral protocol on Rules of Origin enters in force. Concerning Cote d’Ivoire, the country should apply the rules of origin in the Market Access Regulation (EU) 2016/1076 for EU originating goods, however for the time being this rules are not in application in the country since the implementing legislation needs to be published in Cote d’Ivoire. Moreover, the EU Commission clarified that information will be published on the Europa website on the retrospective issuance of proof of origin for goods in transit once the EU-SADC EPA enter in provisional application (South Africa being part of the signatory countries).
Finally, regarding GSP countries, the EU Commission has noticed that some South East Asian and African countries are not correctly applying the provisions on the proofs of origin “issued retrospectively”. The underlying rules detailed in the UCC Implementing Act for GSP beneficiary countries were explained in detail to these countries by the EU Commission. This has entailed a change in the practice of the customs authorities of these partner countries.
For further information about the UCC please refer to our #Customs4dummies series of articles on our website.
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