Rules of Origin and the Use of Free Trade Agreements a Literature Review

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Rules of Origin and the Use of Free Trade Agreements: A Literature Review

In today`s globalized economy, trade agreements have become an integral part of international commerce. Free trade agreements (FTAs) in particular have gained widespread popularity among countries as a means of reducing trade barriers and promoting economic growth. One of the key components of any FTA is the rules of origin (ROO) that define the conditions under which goods qualify for preferential treatment under the agreement. In this article, we will review the key literature on ROO and the use of FTAs and examine the rules and challenges associated with their implementation.

Rules of Origin (ROO) in FTAs:

ROO are the criteria used to determine the country of origin of goods traded under an FTA. The ROO are designed to prevent third-party countries from using the FTA as a backdoor to gain access to the markets of the member countries. They also ensure that only goods that meet certain conditions, such as a certain percentage of value-added content or production processes carried out within the member countries, are eligible for preferential tariff rates.

ROO are typically defined in the text of the FTA and are often complex and technical. They require a thorough understanding of the production processes involved in the manufacture of goods and the ability to determine the origin of each component used.

The Challenges in Implementing ROO:

Despite the benefits of ROO in promoting trade among member countries, there are several challenges associated with their implementation. One of the main challenges is the administrative burden placed on businesses to comply with the rules. This can lead to increased costs and delays in trade.

Another challenge is the potential for ROO to be used as a tool to protect domestic industries. If the rules are too strict or complex, they may discourage trade or lead to disputes between member countries.

Finally, the lack of harmonization among different FTAs can also pose a challenge for businesses that trade across multiple agreements. This may require businesses to comply with different sets of ROO for the same product, leading to confusion and increased costs.

The Benefits of FTAs:

Despite the challenges associated with ROO, FTAs have been shown to bring significant benefits to member countries. These benefits include increased trade between member countries, leading to improved economic growth, job creation, and increased foreign investment. FTAs can also promote cooperation and understanding among member countries, leading to increased stability and security in the region.


In conclusion, the use of FTAs with ROO is an important tool for promoting trade and economic growth among member countries. However, the complexity and challenges associated with ROO implementation must be carefully considered to ensure that the benefits of the agreement are not outweighed by the administrative burden on businesses and protectionist tendencies among member countries. Therefore, businesses must be aware of the rules and regulations associated with different FTAs to fully leverage the benefits of these agreements.