The objective of the WTO Agreement on Rules of Origin (the ROO Agreement) is to increase transparency, predictability and consistency in both the preparation and application of rules of origin.
The ROO Agreement provides important disciplines for conducting preferential and non-preferential origin regimes, such as the obligation to provide binding origin rulings upon request to traders within 150 days of that request. In addition to setting forth disciplines related to the administration of rules of origin, the ROO Agreement provides for a work program leading to the multilateral harmonization of rules of origin used for non-preferential trade.
The Harmonization Work Programme (HWP) is more complex than initially envisioned under the Agreement, which originally provided for the work to be completed within three years after its commencement in July 1995. This work program is ongoing.
The ROO Agreement is administered by the Committee on Rules of Origin (the ROO Committee), which meets formally at least twice a year and meets for informal consultations throughout the year. The Committee also serves as a forum to exchange views on notifications by Members concerning their national rules of origin, along with those relevant judicial decisions and administrative rulings of general application.
The ROO Agreement also established a Technical Committee on Rules of Origin under the auspices of the World Customs Organization to assist in the HWP.
As of the end of 2008, 79 Members had notified the WTO concerning non-preferential rules of origin. In these notifications, 37 Members notified that they had non-preferential rules of origin and 42 Members notified that they did not have a non-preferential rule of origin regime. Forty-seven Members have not notified non-preferential rules of origin.
Eighty-six Members have notified the WTO concerning preferential rules of origin, of which 82 notified their preferential rules of origin and four notified that they did not have preferential rules of origin. Forty Members have not notified preferential rules of origin.
In addition, the United States free trade agreements contain a chapter on the rules of origin which must be met in order to claim preferential treatment under the agreement. These chapters can be accessed under Free Trade Agreements.