Exporters from the least developing countries (LDCs) in Africa and Southeast Asia can benefit from China’s new measures for special preferential tariff treatment. In order to be entitled to preferential tariff treatment, a beneficiary country needs to register with China’s customs the national source of the export product, showing the product is indeed originating from that country.
The Administrative Measures of the PRC Customs on Rules of Origin of Imported Goods from the Least Developed Countries Entitled to Special Preferential Tariff Treatment (“the new measures”), which became effective April 1, is the latest action taken by the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) to improve the administration of the origin of the import goods. China began granting preferential tariff treatments to LDCs that have diplomatic relations with China in 2002.
The GACC made two major changes in the new measures:
- They expanded the criteria that determine the national source of a product, allowing more products to be regarded as originating from a beneficiary country; and,
- They streamlined the consignment process, making the export process more efficient than before.
LDC exporters should seek to understand the benefits of the new measures, which contain both incentives and compliance requirements.
The old rule of origin for imported goods from LDCs
As is common for rules of origin internationally, China uses the rule of origin to determine the national source of a product for purposes of international trade. Generally, the GACC assesses the country of origin for a product as determined by the following two rules:
- If a product is wholly obtained or produced completely within one country, then the product is regarded as having origin in that country;
- If a product has been produced in more than one country and the last substantial transformation took place in a beneficiary country, then the product is also regarded as having origin in that country. (The change of tariff classification, a four-digit number, is a benchmark that shows a product has gone through the last substantial transformation.)