On November 3, 2008, the General Administration of Customs of the PRC (the GAC) promulgated the Administrative Measures Relating to the Origin of Imports and Exports under the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (the APTA) which took effect on January 1, 2009. The Measures repeal the Interim Regulations on the Origin of Imports and Exports under the First Agreement on Trade Negotiations among Developing Country Members of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific promulgated by the GAC on December 30, 2001.  

Currently, Korea, India, Sri Lanka, Laos, Bangladesh and China are member countries of the APTA (each a Member Country, and collectively, the Member Countries), among which Laos and Bangladesh are the least developed. The Measures stipulate that all goods directly imported from an APTA Member Country into China are eligible for the conventional or preferential tariff rate under the APTA as contained in China’s Import and Export Tariff Codes, as long as the goods were wholly obtained from or produced in the exporting Member Country. Even if the goods were not wholly obtained from or produced in the exporting Member Country, they may, under certain circumstances, be deemed as having originated in the exporting Member Country and thus enjoy the conventional or preferential tariff rate. These circumstances include: (a) the aggregate value of the product components not originating from the Member Country does not exceed 55 percent of the finished product’s FOB value (or 65 percent for the least developed Member Countries, i.e., Laos and Bangladesh); or (b) the goods processed or produced in a Member Country conform to the criteria of the place of origin as specified under the APTA (these criteria are also a part of the Measures, but the GAC will publish them in a separate document). In addition, the Measures provide for how to determine the place of origin when goods from various Member Countries are used as raw materials in making the final product in one Member Country.  

The Measures provide clarification on the supporting documents to be provided by the importer while applying for preferential tariff treatment in customs declaration. The Measures also provide certain requirements for the form of the Certificate of Origin, and more importantly, a sample form of a combined customs declaration and certificate, along with notes on how to complete the form (in English and Chinese).  

The Measures explicitly state that the GAC has an obligation to keep confidential any trade secrets it discovers as a result of customs declarations in accordance with the Measures, and may not divulge such trade secrets unless the recipients of the imported goods have consented or the GAC is compelled to do so by relevant laws