The 201st meeting of the Origin section of the Customs Code Committee took place on 29 October 2012. The agenda included a discussion on the entry into application and the implementation of the Pan-Euro-Med Convention. The Commission was also scheduled to debrief the Committee on rules of origin in FTA negotiations with, inter alia, Armenia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Canada, and Mercosur. In addition, the Committee was set to prepare the second meeting of the Customs Committee under the EU-Korea FTA. A discussion was also planned on a working document concerning the exchange of letters between the EU, Norway and Switzerland providing that certain products with a content of Norwegian, Swiss or Turkish origin shall be treated as products originating in GSP beneficiary countries, and on the mutual acceptance of replacement certifications of origin Form A or replacement statements on origin.
The Committee further discussed clarifications with regard to the application of emergency autonomous preferences for Pakistan and shared information on the organisation for the issuance of Binding Origin Information (BOI) within the Member States’ administration (i.e. whether this is done at the regional or central level).
New Commission Communication on preferential origin warnings
On 30 October 2012, the Commission published a Communication setting out the conditions for informing economic operators and Member States of cases involving reasonable doubt as to the preferential origin of the goods. Such information (or warning) notices make it impossible for importers to rely on the “good faith” clause that can sometimes lead to remission of duties if a preference is denied. This Communication replaces an earlier Communication from 2000 in light of recent developments concerning risk analysis goals and related experience. The Communication includes a list of circumstances which may give rise to reasonable doubt on the preferential origin of the goods and lists the warning notices published by the Commission which are currently still in place.
Origin marking proposal withdrawn
On 23 October 2012, the Commission issued its Work Programme for 2013. This programme indicates that the Commission’s 2005 proposal on the indication of the country of origin of certain products imported from third countries has been withdrawn. This withdrawal is reportedly due to a lack of agreement in the Council, and the recent interpretation of WTO labelling rules by the WTO Appellate Body in the US – COOL cases initiated by Canada and Mexico. At the moment, the Commission does not appear to be planning to issue a new proposal on origin labelling.