[Excerpt] Recent trade policy issues have pointed to the framework used by the United States and other countries to regulate imports, including the process of determining country of origin using “rules of origin” (ROO). Such rules can be very simple, noncontroversial tools of international trade as long as all of the parts of a product are manufactured and assembled primarily in one country. However, when a finished product’s component parts originate in many countries—as is often the case in today’s global trading environment—determining origin can be a very complex, sometimes subjective, and time-consuming process.
This report first provides a general overview of the U.S. ROO system, including its implementation as it applies to manufactured imports. Second, advantages and disadvantages of the ROO schemes as implemented by the United States are also discussed. Third, the report illustrates ways in which the application of the rules of origin system can lead to country of origin determinations that could be inconsistent with U.S. policy objectives or goals, or encourage businesses to circumvent them. The report concludes with some options that Congress could consider in order to improve the ROO process.