Important Announcement on Rules of Origin (EU-Japan EPA)
The European Business Council (EBC) shared the following important information concerning the application of the origin procedures to benefit from preferential treatment following the EU-Japan EPA.
In order to benefit from preferential treatment the rules of origin of the agreement have to be fulfilled. As part of them, origin has to be proved. This is done either by a so called "Statement on Origin" issued by the exporter or by the importer based on his/her knowledge.
Despite having used the "Statement on Origin" issued by the exporter many importers have been asked for "additional information" by the importing authorities in Japan, i.e. Japan Customs. While the agreement have provisions for this, it was never thee intention of the EU side that this would be used for every shipment.
So in order to remedy and clarify the situation, Japan Customs has published an announcement saying that the importer does not have to submit "additional information" when it is not available to the importer. Neither can Japan Customs deny preferential treatment despite the importer not submitting the "additional information. Please note that this is only the case when a "Statement on Origin" issued by the exporter is used. When origin is certified based on the knowledge of the importer the importer does indeed have to be in possession of information that proves origin.
Also be aware that Japan Customs can still ask for verification. This procedure is however defined by the Rules of Origin in the agreement. The importer can still say that he/she does not have the information. In such cases, Japan cannot unilaterally deny preferential treatment, but may ask the exporting authority to investigate further. Only depending on the outcome of that investigation can Japan deny the preference.
When using a statement on origin issued by the exporter
- an importer in Japan of products originating in the EU under the EPA is not obliged to provide an explanation which is not available to that importer;
- an importer in Japan of products originating in the EU under the EPA, being requested to provide an explanation, is not obliged to obtain that explanation from the exporter in the EU, who made out the statement on origin;
- the absence of such an explanation at the time of claim cannot lead to a denial of the preferential tariff treatment under the EU-Japan EPA.
It means the following for exporters in the EU:
- the exporter in the EU who made out a statement on origin, when requested by the importer in Japan to provide an explanation, is not obliged to provide such explanation.
Regarding the reference made at the end of the announcement, according to which 'When necessary, verification may be conducted based on Article 3.21 of the EPA', it refers to a procedural stage different from the one of the claim. Please see the part concerning that verification in the EU- Japan EPA Guidance on 'Claim, Verification and Denial of Preference'.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact us or the EBC secretariat and we/they will help you to the best of our ability.