The South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) is a regional trade agreement between eight countries in South Asia. One of the key components of SAFTA is the Rules of Origin, which determine whether a product is eligible for preferential tariff treatment under the agreement. The rules of origin for SAFTA specify the criteria that must be met for goods to be considered as originating from a SAFTA member country. These criteria are designed to ensure that the goods have undergone sufficient production or processing within the member country to qualify for preferential tariff treatment.
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Types of Rules of Origin:
- Wholly Obtained Rule of Origin Under SAFTA: The wholly owned products are those that are produced entirely within a SAFTA member country without the use of any materials from outside the member country. Examples of wholly obtained products include minerals extracted from within the member country, live animals born and raised within the member country, and products harvested from within the member country’s territorial waters.
- Product-specific rules, on the other hand, apply to goods that have been produced using materials from outside the member country. These rules require that a specific percentage of the value of the final product must be added within the member country to qualify for preferential tariff treatment.
Conditions Under SAFTA Under Rule 8, a product is considered to be originating from a SAFTA member country if it meets the following conditions:
- The product must be produced or manufactured within a SAFTA member country using non-originating materials that have undergone sufficient processing or working.
- The total value of non-originating materials used in the production of the product must not exceed 60% of the ex-factory price of the final product.
The product must satisfy any applicable product-specific rules of origin. Rule 8 applies to goods that do not satisfy the wholly obtained criterion specified in Rule 7 of the SAFTA Rules of Origin. In other words, if a product contains materials that are not sourced from within the SAFTA member countries, the product must satisfy the conditions specified in Rule 8 to qualify for preferential tariff treatment under the SAFTA agreement.
In addition to these rules, the SAFTA agreement also specifies that the origin of the goods must be supported by a valid certificate of origin issued by an authorized agency. The certificate must contain information such as the exporter’s name and address, the consignee’s name and address, a description of the goods, and the origin criteria met by the goods.
When a Product is Not Considered Originating from SAFTA
Under Rule 7 of the SAFTA agreement, certain operations are considered insufficient to confer the status of originating products. These non-qualifying operations do not meet the requirements for a product to be considered originating and therefore do not qualify for preferential tariffs, here are the operations that are considered insufficient for conferring the status of originating products under Rule 7 of the Rules of Determination of Origin of Goods under SAFTA:
- Operations for the preservation of products during transport and storage, such as ventilation, spreading out, drying, chilling, placing in salt, sulphur dioxide or other aqueous solutions, removal of damaged parts, and similar operations.
- Simple operations like removal of dust, sifting or screening, sorting, classifying, matching (including the making-up of sets of articles), washing, painting, cutting up.
- Changes in packing and breaking up and assembly of consignments, simple slicing, cutting and repacking or placing in bottles, flasks, bags, boxes, fixing on cards or boards, and all other simple packing operations.
- Affixing of marks, labels, or other distinguishing signs on products or their packaging.
- Simple mixing of products, whether or not of different kinds, where one or more components of the mixture do not meet the conditions laid down in the rules for being considered as originating products, and mere dilution with water or another substance that does not materially alter the characteristics of the product.
- Simple assembly of parts of products to constitute a complete product.
- A combination of two or more operations specified in (1) to (6).
These operations do not meet the required criteria for conferring the status of originating products under SAFTA. In India, the Customs department is responsible for implementing and enforcing the Rules of Origin for SAFTA. Here’s what you need to know:
Basic Requirements: To Qualify for Preferential Tariff Treatment Under SAFTA
- It must be produced or manufactured entirely in a SAFTA member country.
- The product must meet the specific rules of origin for its tariff heading, as defined in the SAFTA agreement.
- Certificate of Origin: To claim preferential tariff treatment, the exporter must provide a Certificate of Origin (COO) issued by an authorized agency. The COO is a document that certifies that the product meets the Rules of Origin criteria.
- Authorized Agencies: In India, the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) authorizes agencies to issue COOs for SAFTA exports. The list of authorized agencies can be found on the DGFT website.
- Tariff Heading: The Rules of Origin criteria vary by tariff heading, which is a classification code assigned to each product for customs purposes. To determine the specific Rules of Origin criteria for a product, exporters should consult the SAFTA agreement and the relevant customs tariff schedules.
- Non-originating Materials: If a product contains non-originating materials, the value of those materials must not exceed a certain percentage of the product’s ex-factory price. The exact percentage varies by product and is defined in the SAFTA agreement.
It is important for businesses engaged in trade under the SAFTA agreement to understand the specific rules of origin that apply to their products and ensure that they comply with these rules when applying for the SAFTA Certificate of Origin. This can help them take advantage of preferential tariff treatment under the agreement and reduce their costs of exporting to other SAFTA member countries.
In conclusion, understanding the Rules of Origin for SAFTA in India is essential for businesses that want to take advantage of the preferential tariff treatment offered under the agreement. By following the guidelines set by Customs and obtaining a Certificate of Origin from an authorized agency, exporters can ensure that their products meet the criteria for preferential treatment and avoid delays or rejection of their shipments.