New Delhi: The Union government has come up with guidelines for the enforcement of the ‘rules of origin’ for imports under trade agreements. Also Read - Pakistan, Afghanistan to revise transit trade agreement

The Customs (Administration of Rules of Origin under Trade Agreements) Rules, 2020 (CAROTAR) will come into effect on September 21, 2020. Also Read - French companies to continue investing around USD 1 bn in India

The Department of Revenue circular noted that the ‘Rules of Origin’, by virtue of which a good attains origin of a country, have evolved with subsequent reviews of trade agreements and most trade agreements have moved from single general rule to specific rule for most of the tariff lines, with inclusion of vast array of processes which can confer origin.

Section 28DA of the Customs Act, 1962 makes it incumbent upon an importer to possess sufficient information as regards the manner in which country of origin criteria, including the regional value content and product-specific criteria, specified in the Rules of Origin in the trade agreement, are satisfied.

For this purpose, CAROTAR, 2020 has provided a form, containing a list of basic minimum information which an importer is required to obtain while importing goods under claim of preferential rate of duty.

“Therefore, in case there is a doubt with regard to origin of goods, information should be first called upon from the importer of the goods, in terms of rule 5 read with rule 4 of CAROTAR, 2020, before initiating verification with the partner country in terms of rule 6,” said the circular dated August 21.

The CAROTAR, 2020 and ‘Rules of Origin’ notified for a trade agreement in terms of sub-section (1) of section 5 of the Customs Tariff Act, 1975, broadly provide the following grounds for verification including — in case of a doubt regarding the genuineness of the Certificate of Origin (CoO) such as any deficiency in the format of the certificate or mismatch of signatures or seal when compared with specimens on record.

Verification requests should be forwarded to the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) based upon standard operating procedures.

In case several certificates pertaining to identical items are under review or scrutiny, only representative certificates should be forwarded to the board to cause verification along with a list of all Certifications of Origin to which the field formation aims to apply the result of such verification.

Representative CoOs may be selected in such a manner to ensure that they cover each of the exporters, importers and the prescribed originating criteria. Similarly, should the proper officer feel the need to verify documents to establish compliance of direct consignments or third-party invoicing, if provided for in the Rules of Origin, then the same should be included in the verification proposal, the circular said.

India has trade agreements with several countries, including free trade agreements with many in the south-east Asian region.