The EEA rules on origin are set out in the EEA agreement. The basic rule is that the product originates if wholly obtained in the EEA or sufficiently processed or worked in it, it will qualify for originating status. Customs The EEA Agreement provides for a free trade area covering all the EEA States.
The EEA Agreement does not extend the EU Customs Union to the EEA EFTA States. The aim of both the free trade area and the EU Customs Union is to abolish tariffs on trade between the parties. However, whereas in the EU Customs Union, the EU Member States have abolished customs borders and procedures between each other, these are still in place in trade between the EEA EFTA States and the EU, as well as in trade between the three EEA EFTA States. Furthermore, the common customs tariff on imports to the EU from third countries is not harmonised with the customs tariffs of the EEA EFTA States.
The EEA Agreement prohibits tariffs on trade between the Contracting Parties. Therefore, all products, except certain fish and agricultural products, may be traded free of tariffs within the EEA. In order for a product to obtain preferential treatment under the EEA Agreement, it has to originate in the EEA.
The EEA Agreement, therefore, contains rules of origin that determine to what extent a product must be produced or processed within the EEA in order to obtain status as a product of EEA preferential origin.
The agreement and annexes set out certain operations which are deemed sufficient to confer originating status and list operations which are insufficient to do so. They are broadly similar terms to those in the GSP.
The rules refer to processes which are deemed to confer originating status and do not refer to change of tariff classifications. They are subject to a general tolerance of up to 10 per cent of the price for a third-party non-originating material.
Processing or working outside of the EEA of goods which are subsequently reimported is ignored subject to conditions. In particular, they must be wholly obtained in the EEA or have undergone further working or processing beyond the insufficient categories of working and the reimported goods result from the working or processing of exported materials with total value added outside EEA not exceeding 10 per cent of the final product.
Preferential treatment is limited to those goods for which cumulation is permitted or which are transported directly within the EEA (Article 12). The EEA and the EU are treated as a single territory for the purpose of cumulation. Products obtain originating status if they are sufficiently worked or processed within it (beyond the defined insufficient level). Certain operations are set out which do not confer originating status where the working and processing does not exceed the stipulated level.
A product may be regarded as of EEA origin or the value-added in the EEA exceeds the value added in third countries. It the value-added does not exceed that amount the product is deemed to originate in the country which has the highest value of originating materials used in manufacture in the EEA.
Products which include materials from other European countries may be deemed originating in the EU under the agreement between the EEA and the countries in question. Many of these countries have now acceded to membership of the EEA. Some countries are within the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership including some Middle-Eastern countries.
The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership contains similar rules of origin.M ost countries have agreements which allow Pan-European-Mediterranean cumulation.
The pan-Euro-Mediterranean (pan-Euro-Med) free trade system is a network of FTAs between a significant number of European and Mediterranean countries. All these agreements are based on identical rules of origin.
Significant advantages for economic operators are generated through this system of free trade, since a product may be traded between the free trade zones without losing its preferential status, and since producers are allowed to freely use raw materials and components originating in any of the participating countries in the production of originating products.
This Article draws in part on EFTA publication Trade in Goods; It is reproduced pursuant to EEA rules on the use of public sector information Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information.