Today, ICC WCF has launched a revised version of its International CO guidelines, which aims to provide chambers of commerce and exporters with updates on new processes, including digitalisation of the CO process.
Since 1953, ICC has consistently advocated for a common definition to determine the origin of manufactured goods to improve trade efficiency, protect intellectual property, and ensure product safety. ICC WCF’s efforts to establish an international standard on certificates of origin came to fruition in 2006 with the publication of the first edition of the CO Guidelines.
The first edition of the CO Guidelines was published to educate business, chambers of commerce, and custom authorities on the importance of origin in the context of international trade. According to these guidelines, a certificate of origin is one of the most important trade documents required by businesses, banks and customs officials to authenticate the origin of exported goods. These documents are issued by chambers of commerce around the world.
The latest edition of the CO Guidelines elaborates on the differences between both preferential and non-preferential certificates of origin. It focus on non-preferential rules of origin which are required for payment mechanisms, such as letters of credit for traded goods, and measures related to trade policies, like applications for Most-Favoured Nation (MFN) status. Meanwhile, preferential rules of origin determine whether goods or services are eligible for preferential treatment under Free Trade Agreements (FTA).
Aligning with digitalisation
As part of simplifying this administrative process, the revised CO Guidelines recommend that all chambers of commerce to promote the electronic submission of COs. It notes that most chambers of commerce have eCO system, yet not all are promoting its use. By encouraging the use of eCOs and online statements, chambers of commerce can simplify the application process, which will benefit business and exporters.
Custom authorities can check the authenticity of eCOs issued by chambers accredited in the CO Chain, by using ICC WCF’s Certificates of Origin Verification website. Launched in 2014, this website allows chambers of commerce and customs authorities to confirm the validity of online COs.
Pursuing uniformity across the supply chain
In September 2012, ICC WCF announced the creation of the ICC WCF International Certificate of Origin Accreditation Chain (CO Chain), which allows chambers of commerce to adhere to these guidelines on a voluntary basis. By joining the CO Chain, chambers of commerce agree to follow the CO Guidelines and are entitled to use the internationally recognised quality label.
This label guarantees that chambers follow transparent and responsible procedures when issuing COs to business. The CO Chain is essential in promoting the CO Guidelines as the most commonly recognised set of international standards on certificates of origin.
Learn more about the CO Chain and CO Accreditation.