The purpose of this paper is to analyze the different kinds of rules of origin included in the US‐Arab countries free trade agreements (FTAs), and suggest reform measures that should be adopted to ease the complexity and costs of rules of origin in these agreements.
The paper begins with a brief discussion of the concept of free trade, GATT/WTO, and the recently concluded FTAs between the USA and Arab countries. Then, the article analyzes in details rules of origin in the US‐Arab countries FTAs. The analysis includes, among other things, substantial transformation and value‐added tests, product‐specific processes, and other relevant rules of origin. The paper also addresses the documentations and procedures required to prove origin and the costs involved. Finally, the paper offers a set of conclusions and recommendations.
The paper argues that rules of origin in these FTAs are complex and protectionist and indeed could act barriers to trade. The paper suggests reforming these rules by liberalizing rules of origin for certain products that are subject to very low tariff rates, and implementation of – among other things, full cumulation and de minimis rules of origin.
The findings in the paper are important to policymakers, and any person interested in understanding the effects of rules of origin in trade agreements. It is hoped that the paper will assist officials in Arab countries who contemplate negotiating FTAs by providing them with insightful analysis of rules of origin in existing agreements.