The 198th meeting of the Origin Section of the Customs Code Committee was held on 21 May 2012. The meeting report has just recently been made available. This report shows that the meeting involved preparations for the next Pan-Euro-Med working group meeting, along with status updates on the on-going Canada, Malaysia, Mercosur and India FTA negotiations. Discussions were also held on various topics relating to the existing FTAs with Korea (splitting of consignments) and Chile (Special Committee on Customs Cooperation and Origin meeting held in March 2012), and application of GSP origin rules on certain fishery products. Briefings were also given on meetings with officials from Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia on issues relating to preferential rules of origin.
The report from the 199th meeting of the Origin Section of the Customs Code Committee held on 3-4 July 2012 has also recently been made available. This report shows that, in relation to non-preferential rules of origin, rules relating to spirits produced in the EU from imported concentrates and discussions on a possible rules of origin hierarchy held at the WTO in Geneva were discussed. The Committee also discussed the possible revision of the pan-Euro-Med rules of origin in preparation for the October 2012 Working Group meeting, as well as issues relating to direct transport and Korean origin declarations with Swiss addressees under the EU-Korea FTA.
Status updates were given on the EU’s FTA negotiations with India and Canada, and the Commission presented statistics on post-clearance verification requests of proofs of origin received from and sent to beneficiary countries in 2010 and 2011. Finally, certain origin certification-related issues, in light of Turkish additional duties on imports of certain textile products not originating in the EU, were discussed.
CJEU judgment confirms burden of proof for origin certificates
On 8 November 2012, the CJEU issued a judgment in Case C-438/11, Lagura Vermögensverwaltung GmbH v. Hauptzollamt Hamburg-Hafen, relating to GSP origin certificates, and where the burden of proof falls when the exporting country is unable – in this case, due to the fact that the factory has ceased production – to verify the accuracy of certificates. The Court’s judgment confirms that it is very difficult for an importer to invoke the “good faith clause” to escape liability in such cases, as the burden still falls on the importer to prove that the certificate was based on a correct account of the facts by the exporter in order to obtain duty preferences. The Court acknowledged that this may be inconvenient for the importer, who otherwise acted in good faith, but that the EU cannot be made to bear the consequences of wrongful acts of suppliers of importers, and that importers must assess the risks involved in the market in which they are operating and accept them as normal trade risks.