International Trade: Rules of Origin [June 10, 2008]   [open pdf - 146KB]

This Congressional Research Service report discusses international trade and rules of origin (ROO). "This report deals with ROO in three parts. First, we describe in more detail the reasons that country of origin rules are important and briefly describe U.S. laws and methods that provide direction in making these determinations. Second, we discuss briefly some of the more controversial issues involving rules of origin, including the apparently subjective nature of some CBP origin determinations, and the effects of the global manufacturing process on ROO. Third, we conclude with some alternatives and options that Congress could consider that might assist in simplifying the process. Further, Rules of origin (ROO), used to determine the country of origin of merchandise entering the U.S. market, can be very simple, noncontroversial tools of international trade as long as all of the parts of a product are manufactured and assembled primarily in one country. However, when a finished product's component parts originate in many countries, as is often the case in today's global trading environment, determining origin can be a very complex, sometimes subjective, and time-consuming process. [...] Preferential rules are used to determine the eligibility of imported goods from certain U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) partners and certain developing country beneficiaries to receive duty-free or reduced tariff benefits under bilateral or regional FTAs, trade preference programs (such as the Generalized System of Preferences), and other special import programs. Preferential rules of origin are specific to each FTA, which means that they vary from agreement to agreement and preference to preference."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL34524
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