The European Community’s preferential trading agreements with third countries all contain origin rules, which lay down a number of detailed criteria that must be met in order for goods to qualify for preferential customs treatment. These “preferential rules of origin” are currently under discussion by policy-makers1 and economists developing guidelines for policy-makers. However, no such discussion is apparent in the more recent academic literature. It appears that scientifi c debate so far has not analysed in depth the basic legal concepts and instruments contained in preferential trading agreements. The following article attempts to identify these instruments and draft a conceptual overview.
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