More than 50 chamber trade experts from 30 countries used the 9th World Chambers Congress to pursue their dialogue on the role of Chambers in issuing trade documents, in AEO as well as Trusted Traders programs and the acceptance of electronic certificates of origin (eCOs).
Participants also discussed at length the challenges encountered with electronic COs worldwide and the importance of obtaining recognition of these documents by customs administrations, particularly in a context of the digitization of trade documents.
During a workshop dedicated to Certificates of Origin, chambers and customs representatives exchanged their opinions on topics such as the opportunities and role for chambers in Free Trade agreements, in defining origin and the benefits of eCOs for businesses and Customs.
Chambers of commerce play a crucial role in defining origin. Marc Bauer, Head of Foreign Trade at Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce, representing the ICC Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation, presented the position paper stating that ICC observes the proliferation of non-preferential rules of origin as an increasing barrier to cross-border trade and calls for a standstill until either a multilateral agreement or sectoral agreements can be reached.
Milena Budimirovic, WCO Technical Officer, Procedures and Facilitation Sub-Directorate presented WCO activities on the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) as, even if the provisions in the TFA mostly fall under the responsibility of Customs, these authorities are willing to cooperate with other stakeholders, including the private sector and Chambers.
Martin Van der Weide, Policy Advisor from the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, focused his presentation on the benefits and challenges of eCOs systems for business and Customs and the importance of opening a dialogue between Customs and chambers for their acceptance worldwide.
Andrew Willcocks, Senior Adviser, Trade Facilitation, Australian Chamber of Commerce, encouraged chambers to pave the way for the future in creating a “trusted” trade environment, with trusted traders and self-certification options being included in FTA’s and their complexities for SMEs, and underlining that free trade agreements are establishing new opportunities for trade.
The meeting was moderated by Lee Ju Song, Executive Director of ICC Asia, with introductory remarks on the work done by the International CO Council provided by Peter Bishop, Deputy Chief Executive of the London Chamber of Commerce.
In her opening remarks, Ms Lee said that due to the changes in the dynamics of the supply chain as well as changes in investment patterns and trade trends, origin criteria face challenges. Criteria for non-preferential origin has become more complex as re-export account for a fairly large proportion of major trading countries’ total exports, sometime as much as 45%. As such, the session provided an excellent opportunity for chambers to discuss the future of origin and its impact on the role to be played by chambers in creating a “trusted” trade environment including a role chambers can play in a trusted traders programme.
International CO Accreditation Chain
The Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and Industry was successfully accredited to be the twelfth member country of the CO Chain.
The Portuguese Chamber joins the other 11 members. They are:
– Australian Chamber of Commerce
– Federation of Belgian Chambers
– British Chambers of Commerce
– Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce
– China Council for the Promotion of International Trade
– Dubai Chamber of Commerce
– Netherlands Chamber of Commerce
– Paris Ile de France Chamber of Commerce
– Singapore International Chamber of Commerce
– Korean Chamber of Commerce
– Slovak Chamber of Commerce.
The International CO Chain was launched by the ICC World Chambers Federation in September 2012 based on its International Certificates of Origin Guidelines, to which chambers can adhere on a voluntary basis. Chamber members benefit from the use of the internationally recognized quality label and the frequently visited CO online verification website, which reinforce their integrity and credibility as competent trusted third parties in the issuance of COs.