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Q. If ambiguity remains concerning the originating status of a product under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), how does one get an advanced ruling prior to the product(s) arrival to the receiving country?

First, thoroughly review your product, its inputs, and the applicable rules of origin. If ambiguity still exists, the customs authority of the importing country can issue a formal and binding "advance rulings" at the written request of the importer, exporter, or producer on questions of tariff classification, customs valuation, country of origin marking, and whether the good qualifies as originating under the Agreement.

Q. If I believe after thoroughly reviewing my product, its inputs, and the applicable rule of origin, that there remains ambiguity as to the "originating" status of the product under the FTA, Korean customs prior to the arrival of my goods in Korea?

The customs authority of Korea will issue "advance rulings" at the written request of the importer, exporter, or producer on questions of tariff classification, customs valuation, duty drawback, origin, and treatment of goods entering temporarily for repair or alteration. Information regarding the facts and circumstances of the inquiry will be required by the Customs authority prior to issuing a ruling.

Q. After thoroughly reviewing a product and there is still ambiguity as to its "originating" status, is there a way to get an advance ruling from Australian Customs?

The Customs authority of Australia will issue "advance rulings" at the written request of the importer, exporter, or producer on questions of tariff classification, customs valuation, country of origin, and whether the good qualifies as originating under the FTA. Extensive information regarding the facts and circumstances of the inquiry will be required by the Customs authority prior to issuing such a ruling.

Q. I'm shipping my product to Canada. How do I fill out a NAFTA Certificate of Origin? Are there other documents to be filled out?

Your shipment may need a NAFTA Certificate of Origin and a Shippers Export Declaration. To learn more about export documentation, please visit export.gov to learn more. The U.S. Commercial Services Trade Information Center or the trade specialists at your local Export Assistance Center can also help you answer these questions. Call 1-800-USA-TRAD(E) or find your local Export Assistance Center.

Q. In order to be eligible for preferential duty rates, is it necessary to fill out a certificate of origin?

The U.S.-Australia FTA calls for the importer to make a claim of preference. This Agreement does not require that the importer provide a certificate of origin in support of the claim of preference. However, importers claiming a preference for a good must be prepared to submit, upon request by Customs authorities, a statement setting out the reasons that the good qualifies, including pertinent cost and manufacturing information if necessary. No particular format for such a statement is specified in the Agreement. The importer may therefore ask the exporter for this information. The exporter (seller) may give confirmation, in an un-prescribed format, of why the goods qualify as "originating," which the importer may use to validate its claim. It is advisable to work with your importer and provide your importer with a written statement of origin upon request. Customs officials can require importers to maintain documents relating to purchases and costs for up to five years after importation, should investigation and verification of claims be required. Customs officials can also seek information from exporters in verifying claims.

Q. In order to be eligible for preferential duty rates under the U.S.-Bahrain FTA, is it necessary to fill out a certificate of origin?

The U.S.-Bahrain FTA calls for the importer to make a claim of preferential treatment. This Agreement does not require that the importer provide a declaration of origin or other documentation in support of a claim of preferential treatment unless requested by the customs authority. However, an importer claiming preferential treatment is considered to have certified that the good qualifies for preferential tariff treatment. Additionally, importers claiming a preference for a good must be prepared to submit, upon request by the customs authority, information supporting a claim for preferential treatment. The importer may therefore ask the exporter for such supporting information. The exporter may give confirmation, in an un-prescribed format, of why the goods qualify as "originating," which the importer may use to validate its claim. It is advisable to work with your importer and provide your importer with a written statement of origin upon request.

Q. In order to be eligible for preferential duty rates under CAFTA-DR, is it necessary to fill out a certificate of origin?

The Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) calls for the importer to make a claim of preferential treatment. This Agreement does not require that the importer provide a certificate of origin in support of the claim of preference unless requested by the customs authority. However, an importer's claim of preference must be based on a written or electronic certification or the importer's knowledge that the good is originating. Additionally, importers claiming a preference for a good must be prepared to submit, upon request by customs authorities, information supporting the claim for preferential treatment. The importer may therefore ask the exporter for such supporting information. The exporter may give confirmation, in an undefined format, of why the goods qualify as "originating," which the importer may use to validate its claim. It is advisable to work with your importer and provide your importer with a written statement of origin upon request.

Q. In order to be eligible for preferential duty rates under the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) , is it necessary to fill out a Certificate of Origin?

The U.S.-Australia FTA calls for the importer to make a claim of preference. This Agreement does not require that the importer provide a certificate of origin in support of the claim of preference. However, importers claiming a preference for a good must be prepared to submit, upon request by Customs authorities, a statement setting out the reasons that the good qualifies, including pertinent cost and manufacturing information if necessary. No particular format for such a statement is specified in the Agreement. The importer may therefore ask the exporter for this information. The exporter (seller) may give confirmation, in no particular format, of why the goods qualify as "originating," which the importer may use to validate its claim. It is advisable to work with your importer and provide your importer with a written statement of origin upon request. Customs officials can require importers to maintain documents relating to purchases and costs for up to five years after importation, should investigation and verification of claims be required. Customs officials can also seek information from exporters in verifying claims.

Q. Is the NAFTA Certificate of Origin required for shipments to Mexico and Canada?

NAFTA establishes special preferential tariff treatment for goods "originating" in and traded among NAFTA countries. However, the NAFTA Certificate of Origin is not a required entry document for shipments between the United States and Mexico or Canada and should only be prepared if the product qualifies under the NAFTA Rules of Origin for preferential tariff treatment. The exporter must first initiate a process to determine if the product qualifies and whether a Certificate of Origin is needed. Completion of a NAFTA Certificate of Origin is an affirmation that the party signing the document has researched the terms of the NAFTA and has determined that the goods covered by the certificate are "originating," as defined in the agreement. Preparation of this certificate imposes certain legal rights, obligations and liabilities on the party signing the document and should be based on a careful inquiry into the terms of the NAFTA as they apply to each product. One of the most difficult issues exporters face when exporting to one of the NAFTA countries is determining whether the product can be considered an "originating good." Origin is not determined by where the product begins its export journey. The term "originating" means qualifying under the rules of origin set out in Chapter Four (pdf) of the NAFTA agreement. The NAFTA Certificate of Origin must be completed in order to receive preferential tariff treatment upon entry into the importing country. Many U.S. companies are unfamiliar with the agreement and mistakenly believe that products produced in the United States, Canada, or Mexico qualifies for NAFTA treatment. Most firms are unaware that they need to determine whether there are any foreign parts, components, or raw materials used to manufacture their final product. U.S. companies must obtain or confirm the appropriate Schedule B or Harmonized Tariff Classification Number for their product(s) in order to reference the rules of origin that govern the allowable percentage of foreign components. The classification number is also used by shippers in reporting export shipments, by governments in compiling official trade statistics, and by customs authorities in determining the relevant import duties to be paid.

Q. Under the U.S.-Korea FTA, is there any guidance on qualifying "sets of goods?"

If goods are classified as a set as a result of the application of the General Rules of Interpretation of the Harmonized System of the U.S., the set is originating only if each good in the set is originating. In addition, a set of goods is originating if the value of all the non-originating goods in the set cannot exceed 15 percent of the adjusted value of the set.

Q. What are the best prospects for U.S. companies to do business in Bahrain?

Through this Agreement, Bahrain opened its services market wider than any previous FTA partner. The sectors that appear to be best prospects for new business in Bahrain include: Financial Services Bahrain is a principal financial services hub in the Middle East. Legal, regulatory, and accounting systems in the financial sector (onshore and offshore) are transparent and consistent with international norms. International financial institutions operate in Bahrain, both internationally and domestically, without impediments. Bahrain's attraction as a financial center is based on its established offshore facilities, free foreign exchange movement, tax-free status, stable Bahraini Dinar-USD foreign exchange rate, established insurance sector, modern telecommunications systems, and prime geographical location among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. The financial sector has established itself as a key employment generator for Bahrain. Education & Training Services The establishment of new private universities, which is supported by the Government of Bahrain in order to promote higher education, is a primary driver in the recent growth in the education sector. The Crown Prince and the Bahrain Defense Force Commander-in-Chief launched a national reform initiative in 2004 that is aimed at creating a new economic, labor, education and training vision for the Kingdom. The Government of Bahrain is seeking to establish Bahrain as a regional center for human resource development. Bahrain has over 50 training institutes that offer training in a variety of areas such as hospitality, information technology, business studies, English language studies, and banking. The Ministry of Labor is actively encouraging international education and training organizations to set up bases in Bahrain. With a total investment of approximately $50 million, four new private universities have opened since late 2002. Healthcare Services Bahrain has a modern health system. All Bahrainis receive free state health care. Current plans for the health services sector include the construction of a third large public hospital, the King Hamad Hospital in Muharraq, where construction on the project has already started. The Royal College of Surgeons will use the medical facilities as a learning hospital. In the private sector, the Boston-based Joslin Diabetes Center (JDC) constructed its first facility outside the U.S. in Bahrain in 2003. Due to increased demand for diabetes treatment in Bahrain and the Gulf, in 2004, JDC announced plans to expand the existing facility with an additional building. In 2002, a $45 million private hospital, the Bahrain Specialist Hospital, contributed to the growth in the countrys private medical services with the establishment of the Ibn Al Nafees Hospital. Bahrain Ministry of Health officials have also announced that the government might start outsourcing certain jobs, including the management of both medical and non-medical services in the $80 million King Hamad Hospital, expected to complete in 2007. Tourism Bahrain always has been a tourist favorite amongst regional and international visitors. The Bahrain Ministry of Information is working diligently to upgrade the tourism sector through granting licenses for projects that will expand family tourism. Part of these efforts is directed towards providing attractions and events that will increase tourists' length of stay. Longer term, investment opportunities exist for large-scale tourist attractions that appeal to the international tourist. Given the current composition of tourists to Bahrain (mainly visitors from the GCC), the demand by these tourists for secondary homes in Bahrain is also expected to increase. In addition, with the notable rise in shopping malls and complexes in Bahrain, there are increasing opportunities for international restaurant chains, theatres, and other entertainment activities. Tourism development is not limited to leisure tourists. Health tourism (fitness centers and spas, for example) and business tourism (fairs and exhibitions) also represent significant opportunities for investors. Information & Communications Technology (ICT) In the past five years, telecommunications liberalization has extended to mobile telecommunications services, paging services, very small aperture terminal (VSAT), public access mobile radio services, international telecommunications facilities, international telecommunications services, national fixed services, internet service provider (ISP) and value-added services license following the full liberalization of the sector on July 1, 2004.

Q. What are the best prospects for U.S. companies to do business in Morocco?

The U.S.-Morocco FTA dramatically increased market access opportunities in Morocco for U.S. manufacturers and service providers and investors. An average tariff rate of 28.3 percent now hinders U.S. exports to Morocco. When the Agreement entered into force on January 1, 2006, Morocco immediately eliminated tariffs on 92 percent of U.S. non-textile industrial exports-a record for an FTA signed with a developing country partner. Morocco is the United States' ninth largest goods trading partner on the African continent, with $958 million in two-way trade in 2002. Civil aircraft, chemicals, information technology, and energy products make up the largest U.S. exports to Morocco. Small and medium-sized enterprises ("SMEs") comprise more than 97 percent of U.S. exporters and will benefit just as much as-if not more than-their larger brethren under the Agreement. The Agreement provides particularly significant opportunities for trade in goods in the following non-textile industrial sectors: Automobiles and Automotive Parts Environmental Technologies (Goods and services) Building Products Chemicals Civil Aircrafts Consumer Goods Construction Equipment Forest and Paper Products Information Technology (IT) Metals/Steel Pharmaceuticals Textiles and Apparel Agriculture

Q. What are the changes to Mexico's maquiladora regimen implemented January 1, 2001?

Under NAFTA, Mexico can no longer waive import duties for non-NAFTA products that are processed in Mexico and exported to a NAFTA partner. The new regulations stipulate that, as of 2001, a maquiladora company that exports its final product to the United States or Canada will have to pay the Mexican government, within 60 days of export, import duties for the product's non-NAFTA inputs. The changes to the law affecting the import of materials, components and supplies for the maquiladora industry grant U.S. companies competitive advantage over non-NAFTA suppliers. U.S. companies are encouraged to learn about the rules affecting the maquiladora industry and to comply with the necessary requirements to become potential suppliers, including the preparation of the NAFTA Certificates of Origin that would grant them the benefit of exporting their products duty-free into Mexico.

Q. What benefits can U.S. companies expect from the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement?

The U.S.-Bahrain FTA allows U.S. suppliers of goods to be more price-competitive in the Bahraini market simply due to duty reduction and elimination. A U.S. exporter whose goods qualify under the Agreement may afford its buyer considerable savings. U.S. exporters also have a competitive advantage in Bahrain against competing third country exporters that do not have the duty benefits provided under the FTA.

Q. What benefits can U.S. companies expect from the U.S.Morocco Free Trade Agreement?

Benefits include: Tariff elimination. Tariffs on 95 percent of two-way trade in industrial and consumer goods were eliminated on January 1, 2006, when this FTA entered into force. Services sector openings. Most U.S. service providers, including banks and insurance companies, are to be treated equally with Moroccan companies. Agricultural access. U.S. farmers and ranchers, including poultry farmers, cattle producers and wheat farmers, have increased access to Moroccan markets. Enhanced intellectual property rights protection. Morocco will provide U.S. copyright, patent, and trademark owners stronger protection and more effective enforcement of intellectual property rights. Transparency measures. The Moroccan government will publish its trade related laws and regulations concerning matters covered by the Agreement, as well as allow public comment to the extent possible. Customs cooperation. U.S. companies can expect faster customs processing for their goods.

Q. What documents will I need to export to Morocco?

Certificate of Origin: No certificate of origin is required. The FTA provides that whenever an importer makes a claim for preferential tariff treatment for a good, that: The importer has certified that the good qualifies for preferential tariff treatment The customs authorities may request the importer to provide a signed declaration with additional supporting information Moroccan customs should request a declaration only when: 1. It has reason to question the accuracy of a deemed certification; or 2. Its risk assessment procedures indicate that verification of an entry is appropriate; or 3. It conducts a random verification. The importer must retain the information necessary to prepare the declaration for five years from the date of importation of the good Shippers Export Declaration (SED): As is the case with exports to other countries, the US government requires submission of a SED, if the value of the shipment is greater than $2,500. Exporters can use the free internet-based system to file (www.aesdirect.gov). Commercial Invoice: Exporters should be aware that commercial invoices for all shipments from the United States must bear a notarized affidavit: I, (name, title, and name of company), hereby swear that the prices stated in this invoice are the current export market prices for the merchandise described, that the products being shipped are of US origin, and that they have been manufactured in the United States. I accept full responsibility for any inaccuracies therein. (Signature) [If the products being shipped contain any foreign components, the country of origin and percentage of foreign content in the goods must be indicated on the invoice.] Other Documentation: For shipments to Morocco, exporters are required to provide, in original form, an airway bill and a packing list.

Q. What documents will I need to export to Jordan?

As is the case with exports to other countries, the U.S. government requires submission of a shippers export declaration, or SED, if the value of the shipment is greater than $2,500. Exporters can use the free internet-based system to file (www.aesdirect.gov). For shipments to Jordan, exporters are required to provide, in original form, a commercial invoice, a certificate of origin, an airway bill, and a packing list. A customs declaration is also required, but only an authorized forwarding agent in Jordan can process the declaration, which must be filed electronically. A general certificate of origin is acceptable and can be obtained from most commercial export document companies or downloaded. Both the commercial invoice and the certificate of origin must be certified by the National U.S-Arab Chamber of Commerce, and then legalized by the Jordanian Embassy or consulate. To locate a National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce, view the Web site www.nusacc.org. The fee for certification is $15 per page/copy of the original. Click here for a list of the Jordanian consulates The legalization fee for the commercial invoice and the certificate of origin is $84 per document. Invoices do not have to be written in Arabic, but if the invoice is written in English or another language, the importer is required to provide an Arabic translation. Typically, this is done in handwriting on the actual invoice. The U.S. Commercial Service at the American Embassy in Amman can provide translation services. Exporters should be aware that commercial invoices for all shipments from the United States must bear a notarized affidavit: I, (name, title, and name of company), hereby swear that the prices stated in this invoice are the current export market prices for the merchandise described, that the products being shipped are of U.S. origin, and that they have been manufactured in the United States. I accept full responsibility for any inaccuracies therein. (Signature) [If the products being shipped contain any foreign components, the country of origin and percentage of foreign content in the goods must be indicated on the invoice.]

Q. What duties and taxes are levied on the goods I export to Bahrain?

On the day that the U.S.-Bahrain FTA entered into force, 100 percent of consumer and industrial products became duty free. Under the FTA, Bahrain is required to open its services market wider than any previous FTA partner, streamline digital trade, protect intellectual property, facilitate government procurement, and provide for effective enforcement of labor and environmental laws. There is a two-step process to finding out the duties your products will be charged: 1) obtain the appropriate Harmonized System number (HS number) for your product and 2) use the HS number to check the Bahrain tariff schedule to find out how and when Bahrains tariff on the product will be eliminated. Each line item of the Bahrain FTA tariff schedule is assigned a letter code that indicates the staging by which the current tariff for each item is reduced and ultimately eliminated. The schedule also notes the base rate of customs duty, which is used to determine the starting point and interim rate at each stage of reduction for an item. While Bahrain is essentially tax-free, some products, like gasoline, face indirect taxes.

Q. What duties and taxes will be levied on the goods I export to Jordan?

Many products can be exported to Jordan duty-free. Without FTA preference, the maximum tariff rate is 30 percent for most goods and 10 percent for raw materials (with the exception of alcohol and tobacco products, which face duties of 50-180 percent). Goods that meet the U.S.-Jordan FTA standards, however, will qualify for preferential duty rates, allowing U.S. firms to enjoy reduced or zero duty rates and the competitive advantage of increased value to potential customers. For most goods, Jordan applies a fixed sales tax at the border of 17 percent based on the cost, insurance, and freight (CIF) value. Goods such as pharmaceutical products, foodstuffs, agricultural goods, and some petroleum products are exempt from the sales tax. Certain goods, including electrical appliances and passenger vehicles, are subject to an additional tax, a qualitative tax, which can range from 7 to 45%.

Q. What education and training services are available in Bahrain?

The establishment of new private universities, which is supported by the Government of Bahrain in order to promote higher education, is a primary driver in the recent growth in the education sector. The Crown Prince and the Bahrain Defense Force Commander-in-Chief launched a national reform initiative in 2004 that is aimed at creating a new economic, labor, education and training vision for the Kingdom. The Government of Bahrain is seeking to establish Bahrain as a regional center for human resource development. Bahrain has over 50 training institutes that offer training in a variety of areas such as hospitality, information technology, business studies, English language studies, and banking. The Ministry of Labor is actively encouraging international education and training organizations to set up bases in Bahrain. With a total investment of approximately $50 million, four new private universities have opened since late 2002.

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