Certificates of Origin

Chambers establish global standards in certificates of origin

  • 14 June 2012
ICC Customs and trade

Trade documentation specialists, from chambers of commerce from more than 20 countries, set in motion a series of global initiatives and projects during their recent meeting on 6 June in Paris, reinforcing their central role in helping business do international trade.

Millions of certificates of origin are issued every year by chambers of commerce, facilitating trade worldwide. The ICC World Chambers Federation (WCF) Certificate of Origin (CO) Task Force, created in 2003, quickly established the first International Certificate of Origin Guidelines. These Guidelines have established international best practice for issuance procedures.

The meeting saw the official release of the French version of the International Certificate of Origin Guidelines, which is now available in six languages. The translation was made by the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who has also shown its commitment to the importance of ICC WCF’s work by distributing the title to chambers across France as well as other Francophone countries.

Widely accepted, the World Customs Organization acknowledges the Guidelines for “its invaluable contribution to the harmonization of issuance procedures”. The Guidelines have also received endorsement from the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Association the American Chamber of Commerce Executives, the Asociacion Iberoamericana de Camaras de Comercio, the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce & Industry and the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Steve Baker, British Chambers of Commerce Representative, chaired the meeting and announced the “pioneer” chambers who had committed to join the ICC WCF International Certificate of Origin Accreditation Chain (CO Chain).

The pioneer chambers are the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Slovak Chamber of Commerce, Singapore International Chamber of Commerce and the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey, with the first signed protocols received from Singapore and Slovakia at the meeting.

Based upon the International Certificate of Origin Guidelines, the CO chain brings chambers the recognition that they are mutually responsible and globally interconnected with their peers, bringing reassurance to business, traders, banks and customs administrations that COs are issued according to internationally accepted best practices. Chambers joining the chain will benefit from the use of an instantly recognizable international quality label which will reinforce their integrity and credibility as competent trusted third parties in the issuance of COs.

In addition to the countries making up the first tranche of signatories to the CO Chain, other delegates affirmed support and outlined steps being taken in their respective countries towards adding their signatures to this project.

The creation of the CO chain will aid WCF’s subsequent work providing support for chambers to address pertinent issues of concern in their communities, including the recognition of electronic certificates of origin (eCOs) and the liberalization of preferential certificates of origin (PCOs).

Several chambers underscored the opportunity that the International CO Chain could provide in bringing the additional surety for the successful deployment and acceptance of eCOs.

Chambers discussed at length recent problems encounteredwith eCOs and the importance of obtaining recognition of these documents and their digital signatures by all customs administrations. The task force agreed to establish a working group to define an eCO standard.

Case studies on developments in issuing practices and environments for Preferential Certicficates of Origin were also made by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as the Confederation of Commercial and Business Associations of Brazil.

The next CO Task Force meeting is scheduled to take place in Goa, India, on 6 November 2012.

Get a copy of the ICC WCF International Certificate of Origin Guidelines.